EMS planning faulted in gun scare inquiry

Student Affairs’ inquiry into a talent show that resulted in a gun scare found that Event and Meeting Services (EMS) staff did not follow proper event-planning policies.

On March 26, Phi Beta Sigma hosted a talent show at which David Joseph Thornton, a man not affiliated with USF, brandished a gun outside the Cooper Hall Auditorium after he was booed offstage and asked to leave.

Guy Conway, assistant vice president of Student Affairs, conducted the inquiry into EMS’s role in the incident.

The inquiry report states that Phi Beta Sigma requested to use Marshall Student Center Ballroom for its event, the Blu Pollo talent show, on March 26. However, the room was already booked for Dance Marathon.

An unnamed EMS staff member made a request for the fraternity to hold the event in Cooper Hall Room 103.

“This action was inconsistent with the current practice for the use of this and other academic venues,” the report states. “Although Cooper (Room) 103 has been used for similar events in the past, current practice is such that academic spaces like Cooper Hall are no longer used for activities of this nature and size.”

When the same staff member received confirmation for the request, the event was not entered in the scheduling system as per EMS procedure.

Conway consulted with Human Resources and has taken disciplinary action against EMS because of “their lack of adherence to established practices and policies,” according to the report.

Conway said he wants to bring in an outside reviewer or consultant to assess the situation and the planning process.

“Somebody to look at our policies and procedures … to make sure we are doing things with the best practices and looking at our staffing patterns,” he said. “And just to see if someone from the outside would recommend we do differently, not that I anticipate that.”

Conway said he has contacted the Association for College Unions International and the Association of Collegiate Conference and Event Directors, both of which the University is affiliated with, to get recommendations of people to review the EMS case.

The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life is continuing its own inquiry. Associate Dean of Student Affairs Regina Young Hyatt, who is in charge of the inquiry, said she cannot yet release any information about it because of the Code of Student Conduct.