Black Greek Council strict on event security

Black Greek Council President Kevin Baldwin said the organization takes every precaution to ensure its events, like the Icebreaker “Stoplight Party,” are safe for all attendees.

The semi-annual social event, which was listed on the official Ferris State University campus calendar, was scheduled to begin Friday, Jan. 31, at 10 p.m. and end Saturday, Feb. 1, at 2 a.m. in Wink Arena.

Two hours after the Icebreaker ended, Ferris student Andre Powell, 19, of Southfield, who Baldwin said was at the event, was shot at Venlo Place Apartments. Powell, who is not a BGC member, was attending an unofficial after-party, according to Ferris sophomore criminal justice major Stanley Pates, who witnessed the shooting.

Baldwin said, to his knowledge, no members of the Black Greek Council attended the Venlo after-party where the incident occurred.

Law enforcement officials believe the suspected shooter DeCory Downing, 20, of Macomb County, and former Ferris student Shaionna Brown, 18, of Mt. Clemens, came to Big Rapids with the intention of attending the Icebreaker.

Baldwin said the Icebreaker and the shooting are unrelated. He, along with BGC Treasurer Gabrielle Jackson, took tickets at the door the night of the event and neither remembers admitting Downing or Brown.

Baldwin estimated 150 people attended the event, including BGC members, Ferris students, Greeks from other universities and other non-Ferris students.

“The majority of attendees are people on campus,” Baldwin said. “Our main focus is our campus. If people aren’t having fun with our organization, then what are we doing? Our organization is on this campus for our campus.”

Attendees were charged $10 at the door or $8 in advance for an evening of music and dancing. The Icebreaker is an opportunity for the BGC to promote itself to potential new members

Safety is a top priority for all official BGC events, according to Baldwin. The organization paid the Ferris Department of Public Safety $800 to patrol the Icebreaker.

“We do everything we can to make sure the Icebreaker is the safest place, even safer than the Rock,” Baldwin said. “It’s the safest place you can be on campus for that four hours.”

Icebreaker attendees had to walk through metal detectors and were patted down by officers prior to entering Wink Arena. Additionally, no beverages are allowed inside and intoxicated people are turned away.

“I can’t remember the last time any incidents occurred at a BGC event because people have respect for our organization and tend to take our events a little more seriously,” Baldwin said of the event that has been held at Ferris for 20 years.

He added that BGC members are prepared to step in at the first sign of trouble.

“We have no tolerance for that at any of our events.” Baldwin said.

Ferris Assistant Director of DPS Jim Cook said past incidents at Icebreaker events include property damage, minor fighting and intoxicated persons but doesn’t want people to think this event causes problems all the time.

Cook said the Jan. 31 Icebreaker was “an uneventful event.” No incidents were reported.

According to Cook, the BGC is very proactive in assisting law enforcement officers and often intervenes before problems get out of hand.

“As a general rule, we don’t have problems with Ferris students at any of these events,” Cook said. “Usually, non-Ferris students will be more disrespectful or non-caring of the rules. People who don’t have a stake in the event.”

Baldwin said the BGC has no plans to change security for its events.

“We’re gonna keep doing the same things we’ve been doing as far as providing security and making sure we have enough people from our organizations there to patrol our parties while we’re having fun at the same time,” he said. “There’s not much else we can do and I don’t think there’s much else we should do.”