Speaker warns Greeks of party liabilities

Jessica Lumpp

Michael Vick, the athlete who was charged with dog fighting, and members of fraternities and sororities have more in common than one would think, said lawyer Rasheed Ali Cromwell who spoke to a packed audience in the Student Center Ballroom last night.

They all can be held liable for decisions they personally make, Cromwell said.

Scenarios, such as a student in Texas who left a fraternity party, drove drunk and crashed into a house, harming a 10-year-old inside, were brought to the attention of the audience. The fraternity that hosted the party was liable for the student’s actions, he said.

“My actions affect others,” the entire audience repeated after Cromwell, which he said was the number one message he wanted to convey.

“Be aware of your actions and realize it up front,” he said.

He gave tips on how to reduce liability and took suggestions from the audience. Having a sober team and encouraging party-goers to walk instead of drive were suggested.

He stressed instead of hosting a party at a home, go to a “third party venue that is a licensed alcohol vendor.”

Cromwell said he is passionate about improving Greek life and cultural empowerment.

He travels across the country to speak to Greek organizations about the repercussions they can face for hosting, managing and promoting parties.

Della Marie Marshall, associate director for the Center for Student Involvement, said Cromwell was brought for informational purposes and because the University can also be held liable for incidents that happen at Greek parties.

“It’s reminding students of a joint responsibility,” she said.

Not just Greeks can be held legally responsible if something goes wrong at a house party, Cromwell said. Even the average student should be aware of the consequences.

“There are different hosting regulations everywhere, but anyone could be held liable (for hosting a party),” Cromwell said.

A problem with Kent noise violations was brought to the attention of Cromwell who advised to get students together to make a change.

“This is a key issue,” he said. “If this is something they are doing to target students, you need to focus on the good and say this is why we don’t agree.”

Martin Martin, Vice President of Omega Psi Phi, said he learned a lot from Cromwell.

“I realized we need to be more careful,” he said. “Especially with using our colors and promoting parties.”

Contact Greek life reporter Jessica Lumpp at [email protected].