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NOD shut down early after medical resources ‘overwhelmed,’ police altercation

By Brandon Chen , Prayag Gordy and Riya Misra     11/1/23 1:24am

Emergency personnel, crisis management and the Wiess College magisters ended Night of Decadence nearly two hours early Oct. 29, according to Jeff Falk, Rice’s director of news and media relations. 

More than two dozen students required medical treatment on-site, and seven Rice students were transported to area hospitals, Falk said. Rice University Police Department Chief of Police Clemente Rodriguez said there were no tasers used or arrests made, contrary to many rumors that circulated in the aftermath of the party. Three students were handcuffed and six were referred to Student Judicial Programs for conduct violations, according to Rodriguez. 

“To be clear, there was no use of any intermediate forms of force such as pepper spray, taser or baton. The health and safety of all attendees was our top priority,” Rodriguez wrote in an email to the Thresher.

In a Monday email to students, Wiess Chief Justice Renzo Espinoza said that Rice crisis management decided to slowly shut down NOD once medical resources were “overwhelmed.” As this happened, a few students had an altercation with Rice University police officers, according to Espinoza, which sped up the timeline. 

“At the peak of the night, all of Rice and Houston medical resources at NOD were becoming completely overwhelmed. Any more stress on campus and city resources would have put us in a very bad position,” Espinoza wrote. “Once [the altercation] transpired, the shutdown of the party was accelerated.”

A student involved in the altercation with RUPD, who requested to remain anonymous due to privacy concerns, said she was handcuffed by RUPD after grabbing her friend, who she said was being taken out of Wiess commons in handcuffs by RUPD.

“The next thing I noticed [was] someone grabbing at me from behind … and then I was just being shoved to the ground,” she said. “These two grown men were pinning me to the floor, pulling my arms behind my back and handcuffing me, and I was probably screaming and crying. I didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t know why they [were handcuffing me]. I didn’t know who was behind me, to be honest. I couldn’t even see. I didn’t hear anything they said, so I didn’t know what they wanted me to do.”  

Other students also told the Thresher they witnessed RUPD lead multiple students out of the Wiess quad in handcuffs. Rodriguez did not respond to a question about the number of students who were placed in handcuffs.

The student said that RUPD brought her to a room with Rice Emergency Medical Services and was told that Student Judicial Programs would be contacting her before letting her go.

Rodriguez said that individuals were removed from the party for not following the rules. Rule violations included “public intoxication, minor in consumption, bringing in alcohol to the party and trying to access the party through an unauthorized access point.”

He did not state the number of students removed, as he said RUPD doesn’t track students who cooperate when asked to leave. Rodriguez said RUPD uses "the least amount of force necessary" when detaining or arresting a student.

“There were a couple incidents in which we had to physically restrain and remove individuals who would not comply with our instructions,” Rodriguez wrote. 

The student said that she sustained multiple physical injuries from RUPD officers, alleging “excessive force” from the officers.

“I had a lot of physical injuries after how they treated me,” she said. “[There is] a pretty big scar on my back, pretty dark bruising on my ribs, tenderness on my hands all the way up to my arms and then bruises on my knees and my head. I still have the scratches on my wrist and tingling in my fingers.”

“I was just in lingerie and I wasn’t armed … which I don’t think warrants that much force,” the student added.

In 2012, when 11 students at NOD were hospitalized, the dean of undergraduates at the time reconvened the Alcohol Policy Advisory Committee, which led to hardened restrictions on hard alcohol and the number of people allowed at private gatherings.

Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman declined to comment for this article and said that Rice will communicate with students later this week.

Many partygoers were in the Wiess quad when NOD ended, queued to enter the commons where a DJ was playing music. The line was created by request of Crisis Management to count capacity and follow fire hazard laws, according to Espinoza’s email. 

“The line that was created to re-enter commons was something new at this NOD that we had not seen before or planned for as a NOD team,” Espinoza wrote. “This was something we were required to follow.”

Emaline Davis, a security volunteer and freshman from Will Rice, said many people were confused by how the party ended.

“All the security guards were really confused because people started freaking out when the party flared out. They kept asking the security guards what happened, but none of the security guards knew,” Davis said. “We were just as confused. We went back to our home base [and said], ‘Do you want us to help clear people out or clean up?’ and they’re like, ‘No, no, just go home everyone.’”

Spring Chenjp contributed to this reporting.


[11/01/2023 2:32 p.m.] Espinoza’s email to students was sent Monday, not Sunday. This article has been corrected.

[11/01/2023 12:36 p.m.] This article was updated to include statements from Rodriguez about number of handcuffed students, number of SJP referrals, rule violations and use of force.

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