Homecoming event cut short by police officials

The so-called ‘Undie Run,’ the Lynn Eusan Park fraternity event and a re-election celebration all took place on the evening of Nov. 6.  |  Courtesy of Wade Tao

The so-called ‘Undie Run,’ the Lynn Eusan Park fraternity event and a re-election celebration all took place on the evening of Nov. 6.  |  Courtesy of Wade Tao

In the wake of the presidential campaigns and stressful midterms, UH students welcomed Homecoming Week with open arms and high energies — but some students were unable to enjoy the week to its full extent.

A scheduled homecoming event was prematurely shut down by UH Police Department and Houston Police Department just before midnight Nov. 6 because the growing size of a large crowd of unaffiliated groups at Lynn Eusan Park.

Although Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. reserved the area until 1:30 a.m. for a homecoming event, the crowd was dispersed by police officials shortly after midnight.

“The confluence of the undie run, a fraternity event at Lynn Eusan Park and an election celebration in the residential areas created a situation that demanded the attention of UHPD,” said UHPD Chief of Staff Lt. Bret Collier in an email.

External vice president of the Zeta Zeta chapter of Phi Beta Sigma, Jason Holiday, expressed with president Francesco Bain the organization’s original intentions of the night.

“We were trying to have a midnight hump day celebration of Lynn Eusan, who was the first African-American Homecoming queen at the University of Houston in 1968,” Holiday said. “Usually our organization will put on these monthly hump days at the University, and they’re usually very successful.”

“We just wanted that. We just wanted some kind of homecoming event.”

According to the Freedom of Expression policy (13.01.01) in the Manual of Administrative Policies and Procedures, organizations wishing to involve in expressive activities — non-curriculum related events designed to attract an audience of 25 or more — may reserve a University common area, but the University maintains its right to place reasonable restrictions regarding time, place and manner on such activities.

“We did reserve the park for 200 people,” Bain said. “The night of the event, it just so happened — coincidentally — the election happened.”

Students from Texas Southern University were reported to be seen on campus celebrating President Barack Obama’s re-election after a march from their neighboring campus but any definite reasons behind their visit are unclear.

“I don’t believe it’s accurate that TSU students were there just to celebrate Obama, because last year’s undie run also had TSU students participating as well,” said psychology sophomore Monica Garden.

Concurrently, promotion organization 5-Star Protainment hosted an underwear run in the same vicinity of the homecoming event. Executive director of Media Relations Richard Bonnin said the run was unauthorized.

“The University did not sanction such an event, and a request to do so was never submitted,” Bonnin said.

According to MAPP 13.01.01, non-University affiliated groups are allowed to use Lynn Eusan Park for non-reserved expressive activities, as long as the area has not already been reserved. Groups and individuals organized in expressive activities are also held responsible for the content of such events.

When the two events merged, students attending did not find a problem with it.

“Honestly, we were out there celebrating a happy thing,” Garden said. “Yes, people were in their underwear, but it wasn’t meant to be a negative thing, and it wasn’t.”

“There was no fighting and no negative energy. I was excited by all the positive energy that was going on.”

Although students observing the crowd from a distance reported a chaotic appearance with the attendance at about 1,000 people, there were no riot-like activities reported by police officials.

“There was one arrest made by an outside agency, and two student referrals made by UHPD to the Dean of Students Office for failure to comply with University officials,” Collier said.

The student arrested was a female UH student charged with a misdemeanor by HPD of allegedly resisting arrest when declining to exit the premises as told by officials.

“I think any issue pertaining resistance was not because we didn’t want to leave, but because of confusion,” Garden said. “We didn’t thing anything was wrong for them to end the event. It was confusing because this is our campus and this is Homecoming; we’re just here celebrating.”

William Munson, associate vice president for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, said the University is in the process of reviewing any alleged policy violations and is unable to release further details to the public at this time.

An attempt was made to retrieve a statement from the Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life in regards to an alleged connection between the fraternity and the underwear run but activities adviser Cassandra Joseph declined to comment.

No TSU student on campus for either event was able to be reached.

Correction at 2:55 p.m. 11/13/12: The Phi Beta Sigma event described in the second paragraph was not an official Homecoming event. It took place because of homecoming, but was not a part of Homecoming Week.

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1 Comment

  • It sounds like UHPD consider a group of mostly Black students celebrating in public to be a riot. This is some systemic racism that needs to be confronted.

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