On Saturday night, the Black Student Assembly’s biannual SC Invite was shut down by security at The Lorenzo student apartments for alleged raucousness, but members of BSA claim the complaints were racially motivated.
The issue started when Lorenzo officials limited the number of guests allowed for the invite on the day of the event, said Casey Ellis, executive director of BSA. Ellis claims that BSA received prior permission to host the invite with over 100 guests, but on Saturday, Lorenzo officials said the room for the event had only a 60-person capacity.
“It’s not a huge room, but it definitely holds more than 60 people,” Ellis said. “Last night, I searched the room, and I could not find a capacity sign posted.”
BSA was then allocated 60 guest registrations, but Ellis noted Lorenzo officials further restricted those allowed into the invite.
“The bulk of the issue came from that they weren’t even allowing residents of the Lorenzo into the venue … They told us [on Saturday] we could register 60 [outside] guests, and they were going to give us 60 wristbands, but then come time of the event, they decided they weren’t letting residents in either,” Ellis said.
Ellis noted that this miscommunication greatly impeded the event, with multiple BSA guests having to wait outside because they were refused entry. Soon after, Lorenzo officials shut down the event entirely, claiming it was “out of control” and “threatening,” Ellis said.
“Where the racial tension came in is with the comments that were made from staff and security about the event being ‘out of control’ and [Lorenzo residents] feeling threatened by our guests, by the vendors that we used, by the DJ that we used,” Ellis said.
One BSA member, who requested to remain anonymous, said the way guests were treated was “extremely racist.”
“I’m upset that [Lorenzo security] treated us so poorly and that black students on campus are looked at as savages, even though we were dressed in suits and dresses,” the student said. “It’s unfortunate that we continue to get looked at like this.”
Ellis compared the invite to “Globefest,” a mixer hosted by USC Program Board’s International Student Assembly, Asian Pacific American Student Assembly, Black Student Assembly and Latino Student Assembly at The Lorenzo two days prior with hundreds of guests in attendance.
“If Thursday night we are part of hosting an event that was attended by over 500 people, and then we have an event where we have 50 people inside and 50 people outside, and you’re calling it out of control, and you’re saying you feel threatened, what’s the difference between the two events?” Ellis said.
She went on to mention that the specific comments were “racially coded,” and BSA plans to file official complaints with The Lorenzo shortly.
“This is not the first time where we’re having an event that we’re being told that we’re coming off as threatening,” Ellis said. “It’s racially coded language that we don’t appreciate and we’re not going to let them get away with it.”
Department of Public Safety Deputy Chief David Carlisle told the Daily Trojan that Lorenzo officials had called DPS to assist in shutting down the invite, as the apartment complex claimed that there was alcohol at the event and too many guests were at the party.
“Apparently there was alcohol present and the party grew larger than it was suppose to be,” Carlisle said. “Lorenzo management called DPS to help [Lorenzo security] intervene, however we stood by outside and left how the party was handled up to the Lorenzo management. They had ended the party because it had gotten too big and there was alcohol.”
Ama Amoafo-Yeboah, the previous executive director of BSA, denied the claims that alcohol was present, and said that dispersing the party did not require DPS involvement.
“We were not serving alcohol. It was a pretty family-friendly environment,” Amoafo-Yeboah said. “Most people were leaving on their own. [Lorenzo security] didn’t have any difficulties.”
Representatives at The Lorenzo could not be reached for comment.
BSA is holding a meeting Monday at 6 p.m. in Grace Ford Salvatori Hall room 106 to discuss the incident and is planning to issue a press release at the same time.
Editors note: This post has been updated.