University of Utah administrators intend to respond to both the immediate and long-term issues raised by Thursday night's confrontation involving fraternity members and the police.
Less than 24 hours after the incident between hundreds of U. students and area police, conflict-resolution talk was thrown around by school officials, as was criticism from neighbors that everyone could have handled the situation better.Following meetings Friday with many of those involved, U. Greek coordinator Cherry Ridges said it was clear that emotions were running high following the situation with police.
For a start, said Ridges, campus police will take complaints against four fraternity houses to the U.'s Greek judiciary, which could issue sanctions ranging from warnings to probation. It could also order any offending house to perform community service.
The four fraternities were identified as Kappa Sigma, Beta Theta Pi, Sigma Phi Epsilon and Phi Delta Theta. The melee began at the Kappa house, and police contend items were thrown at them from the direction of the Sigma Phi and Phi Delta houses.
Salt Lake Police Lt. Phil Kirk said he met with other law-enforcement and university officials Friday and the combined groups "made some plans for the weekend . . . parties that were scheduled, we're going to ask be postponed."
But while representatives determined to cancel activities on Greek Row, one neighbor said the clash "was an overblown excess of adren-a-line from both sides."
Pamela Stewart, a next door neighbor to the Kappa Sigma fraternity, added the biggest problem occurred when police officers failed to maintain control and keep peace - something they're trained to do.
"It was all-out warfare for those police," Stewart said Friday night. "They came screaming out of their cars and it was really like a big attack. Yet these are adults trained to keep situations peaceful.
"They really blew that aspect of their job," she said.
Stewart, who's lived in the neighborhood for six years, said she considers the frat members "as good as neighbors as I'd want." She was also told in advance that a large party would be taking place next door Thursday night.
She said after hearing loud voices and some commotion after 9 p.m., she and her children stepped out to see what was going on only to be "aggressively" told by officers to get back in their house.
"They completely misconstrued the moods," she said. "And they used incredibly abusive language, they were so foul-mouthed."
Another neighbor said although she didn't see what happened during the fracas until a news report on television that night, she hasn't felt threatened living in the area.
"They have some noisy parties, but yes, I feel safe," Rebecca Robbins said.
Police have issued citations to two students, who now will also face student disciplinary proceedings.
Meanwhile, U. administrators Friday afternoon met with representatives of the house corporations and alumni associations that own the fraternity properties. Ridges said the purpose of the meeting was to apprise the owners of the incident and answer any questions they might have about pending administrative actions.
The problems at frat row are expected to be fully aired at a general meeting of the Greek council next week, Ridges said. Also, an internal affairs investigation into how police handled the situation will be conducted, Kirk said.
Mike McComb, vice president of the Interfraternity Council, said allowing rather than canceling an event that would have ended Greek Week Friday night at the Phi Delta Theta house would have helped ease tensions students are still feeling.
"I really think it would have been good for us to have this tonight," McComb said. "This whole thing has strengthened us all and there's a real sense of community up here now. We think it will positively help out the whole Greek system."