Although some students are worried that a university fraternity’s suspension may result in the cancellation of one of its major events, a member from the group said the organization does more than host the Player’s Ball.
The Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity has hosted the Player’s Ball for the past 22 years, and Andy Morgan, Greek life coordinator, said the fraternity is not allowed to host campus events as part of its suspension. Ryan Reed, a senior Kappa Alpha Psi member from Homewood studying speech communication, said he encourages students and faculty to know the fraternity is much more than the event, though he appreciates students’ love for it.
The Player’s Ball was held last year at the end of The Kappa Karnival, a week-long event that drew about 2,000 college students from SIUC and across the country. Reed said the group hosts students, their families and alumni to enjoy free food, games and fun during the carnival. The organization also hosts a free barbecue, an informational meeting on the fraternity, a comedy show and a car show during the week.
“We do so much in the community that we don’t always document like we should, and that’s our fault,” Reed said.
He said the group has put in several volunteer hours at local organizations and events along with hosting its own. Besides the Player’s Ball, the group hosts the Can I Live rally every March, and it cohosts a talent show
for area youth in November.
Although the fraternity has been suspended,
it will still take part in the third annual Carbondale Youth Showcase Nov. 14. During the showcase, Carbondale students exhibit their talents in the Student Center ballrooms, and a school supply drive is held for Carbondale schools and poverty-stricken schools in Bangladesh and South America. Kappa Alpha Psi pioneered the showcase in 2010 and is able to get involved this year by co-sponsoring it with the Speaking and Teaching Registered Student Organization.
Reed said he thinks what hurt the most about the fraternity’s suspension was that the university community’s main concern was the Player’s Ball.
“The truth of the matter is that we didn’t do what we were supposed to do, and we have to suffer the consequences,” he said. “No one is concerned with the fact that this fraternity that has been around for 62 years will not be at SIU for a while.”
Katia Salomon, a senior from Chicago studying psychology, said she has attended the event every year since she’s been at the university and expects the community to suffer without it because of the revenue it generates.
Salomon said she thinks many people view the Player’s Ball as a negative event because a lot of people think of it as a time for only partying, but there are other community events such as Polar Bear that are similar but receive more university support.
Polar Bear is an event Pinch Penny Pub puts on where customers order drinks at reduced prices starting in the morning. Before the January event, SIU officials warn students and families via email and letters about the dangers of day-drinking, and Department of Public Safety employees are available at tents around the city to help anyone who needs assistance.
Salomon said the university has not offered assistance for the Player’s Ball, though.
“Many people have a negative connotation when it comes to Player’s Ball, but people also have that same negative connotation about Polar Bear, but it is still allowed,” Salomon said.
Kwalee Kemp, coordinator of the Black Affairs Council, said the revenue the Player’s Ball brings to Carbondale is crucial.
“There are so many people who attend this event, which in turn allows great business for restaurants, hotels and the mall,” Kemp said. “The businesses aren’t the only people who take advantage of the guests.”
At a Black Affairs Council meeting Thursday, many students said they felt unwelcomed by the university. Kemp cited the university’s assistance during Polar Bear and not the Player’s Ball as an example.
“… If this is an event the university thinks is dangerous and causes violence, then why do they sponsor it and why doesn’t the chancellor send emails of concern to students before this event?” Kemp said.
She said she thinks people who don’t attend the Player’s Ball have a negative perception of what goes on during the event, but she wants the university and the community to understand it offers more than just parties. Kemp said there would be a better perception of Player’s Ball if people understood what the event is all about.
Sean Cobbs, an SIU alumnus and Player’s Ball disk jockey for several years, said he doesn’t think the event’s absence will cause the university or community to suffer, but it will instead cause him, other DJs and party promoters to miss out on the revenue the events generate.
“I personally think there is a way to still have the event at locations outside of the university, and students will more than likely still attend,” Cobbs said.