After years of misconduct and allegations of misallocated resources – including using golf carts to ferry freshmen to fraternity house parties – the SAFE Team is operating on a reduced schedule, after being closed more than two weeks during re-organization this summer.
The same night Student Body President Barclay Harless was caught with alcohol in his Student Government offices, officials say SAFE Team members used golf carts to carry freshmen from an orientation event to the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity house on campus.
SG Athletic Coordinator Gregory Morgan said he saw at least one SAFE Team golf cart carrying freshmen to the Beta fraternity house June 14. He also he had a clear view of two carts parked behind the house that night.
“There were people hanging off the sides (of the cart),” said Morgan. “You could tell they were from orientation because of their colored wristbands.”
Beta Theta Pi – of which Harless is a member – is under investigation after the office of Greek Life received reports they broke social event alcohol policies, Assistant Dean of Students for Greek Life Megan Vadnais said.
The June 14 incident wasn’t isolated. One month later, several students, a staff member and a University Police officer saw an unnamed student out of uniform driving a golf cart, said SG Administrative Services Business Manager David Armstrong.
The next day Armstrong received a letter from UP explaining that although the student was not on duty, the officer let the driver of the cart go because he worked for SAFE Team.
Armstrong declined to comment on the student’s name because educational records laws protect the information.
Throughout the summer Armstrong said he received a number of other complaints – including several concerning members of Beta Theta Pi – dealing with SAFE Team operations. Though it is generally the duty of SG’s executive branch, Armstrong felt that the recurring problems warranted action.
“There had to be multiple instances of misconduct before I could take direct action,” he said. “Something had to be done so I did it.”
After investigating the allegations firsthand Armstrong called a meeting of SG’s Executive Branch to discuss how to fix the troubled department.
The group decided to shut down and reorganize SAFE Team from Aug. 6 to 22.
The employment of every SAFE Team staffer was terminated and they were forced to reapply.
Students marked as troublemakers were not rehired, and many students simply didn’t reapply.
SAFE Team only retained 30 percent of its summer work force. Nearly half the staff members were not rehired on the basis of their conduct, according to current SAFE Team Interim Director Chris Frey.
Eight of the 29 people who were not rehired this semester were Beta Theta Pi members, according to documents obtained by the Oracle.
Many students didn’t re-apply because of graduation, busy schedules or disinterest in SAFE Team, and may have been eligible to return, Armstrong said.
Frey said he plans to add more staff during the semester.
“SAFE Team definitely has more structure,” he said. “It’s been a long process with a lot of late nights. By the end of the semester SAFE Team should be back to its former glory.”