Gun scare raises questions of protocol

Investigations of last week’s gun scare continue, including an in-house inspection of Events and Meeting Services (EMS) to see if protocol was followed when the event at which it occurred was planned.

Gregory Jackson, Marshall Student Center (MSC) associate director, said he is not sure how the request for the event, a fraternity talent show, was submitted but thinks it was either through verbal communication or e-mail.

He said EMS prefers that organizations use an online form to book a space for an event, while unaffiliated groups and individuals must print and fax the forms.

EMS policy states that after student organizations submit a request for an event, they must “visit the Reservations Office to verify and sign all reservation confirmations or confirm via e-mail receipt.”

Jackson said EMS is trying to contact the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity about the event

On Thursday evening, the fraternity hosted a talent show at which David Joseph Thornton, who is not affiliated with USF, brandished a gun outside the Cooper Hall Auditorium after he was booed offstage and asked to leave.

Events expected to include more than 60 people or that are not academic in nature cannot take place in academic areas such as Cooper Hall, Dean of Student Life Kevin Banks said to the Oracle on Monday.

EMS is in charge of informing University Police (UP) and Student Affairs of all events, Jackson said. UP was not informed of the talent show and was not present when the gun incident occurred.

EMS policy states that all events are subject to review and those sponsored by student organizations must receive approval from the MSC event approval coordinator.

Depending on the event, the coordinator of Public Functions, MSC director, UP or Student Affairs may also review the event request.

Jackson said EMS considers the nature of the event to decide whether it needs review.

Before an event, EMS looks at the number of people estimated to attend, its location and the ratio of University to non-University people attending to determine what services or accommodations need to be provided.

Jackson said the details of the talent show were unclear — EMS knew only its projected name, “Blue Apollo.”

“A lot of key pieces (of information) are still missing,” he said.

Megan Vadnais, director of Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, said her office knew the talent show was happening but was not concerned with its minor details.

“We don’t micromanage events,” she said.

The office is sometimes included in the planning process for major events, Vadnais said, but that is under the discretion of EMS.

The office will meet with Phi Beta Sigma later this week.

Assistant Vice President of Public Safety Bruce Benson and assistant chief of police Major JD Withrow are also conducting a University investigation.

USF spokesman Michael Hoad said the administration is looking to determine whether proper planning protocol was followed.

It is an investigation, not an accusation, he said.