Students still worry about campus safety, since just last year Lauren McCluskey was murdered on the University of Utah’s campus. While the school mourned, allegations started coming forward that the Chief Police Officer mishandled the case that led to McCluskey’s death. Chief Dale Brophy was pressured to resign. Now, following a media campaign seeking to educate on safety resources and reassurances from administration on campus safety being their first priority, documents have been released that show that Chief Brophy’s retirement party cost almost $6,000.
The party was held at Rice-Eccles Stadium, which is capable of holding 45,807 people, and approximately 200 people attended. Renting the facility cost a total of $498. The cost of the food could be deemed extravagant, including mini churros with chocolate dipping sauce and “crab avocado shooters with diced jicama.” Food catering came to a total of $5,549.74, which included three different types of dessert.
Students are scared. A group that calls themselves “Unsafe U,” a parody of the University’s media campaign “Safe U,” staged a protest on campus in October. They told stories of students feeling disenfranchised and alone when they asked the Campus Police for help. They painted a picture of a “boys club” police force that denied victims advocates during interviews and gave misinformation about rape kits. These misdeeds happened under the jurisdiction of former Chief Brophy, yet he received a better retirement than the majority of university faculty and staff.
The Salt Lake Tribune published an article on Brophy’s retirement, and commenters were quick to condemn the extravagance. One said “I recently retired from a Utah college as a full professor after 35 years. I had been a department chair and dean twice. My ‘retirement party’ was held with others retiring at the same time and we were served finger food … the retirees felt honored.” Another agreed with the party’s cost, saying that it would “promote teamwork … especially amid a difficult situation.”
This party was paid for from taxpayer’s pockets. Many thought the money was particularly exorbitant considering that Chief Brophy had only worked for the university for approximately five years, and that the money would have been better used going towards more campus resources, such as the Wellness Center. Moving forward the university should seek to not have such expensive parties, especially for such controversial staff. The university should funnel more money into ensuring that the tragedy that happened last year will never happen again.