University of Richmond students found the police presence at NASCAR last Saturday not as threatening as police had promised, partly because so many students canceled after hearing Henrico police’s planned sequestration of Richmond students.
Originally, many students had planned to attend the NASCAR tailgating event at the Richmond International Raceway Saturday, Sept. 7, with widespread support stemming from Richmond’s Greek life. Fraternities, including Sigma Phi Epsilon, Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Kappa Alpha Order, were renting coach buses to bring students to the event, and other fraternities, such as Sigma Chi, were planning to organize shuttle drivers. Estimates differ, but more than 300 students were expected to attend the tailgating event.
This quickly changed when Henrico county police informed Greek life presidents of the accommodations waiting for Richmond students. Henrico police had established a separate tailgating area specifically for the university, sequestered from the main NASCAR tailgate. Police officers would check all students’ identification cards as they arrived at the tailgate area. Bus drivers were required to bring all students to the specified area. Students were required to have tickets.
One Greek life member, under the condition of anonymity, said, “Separated like that, we would have been picked off” by the police.
Soon after Henrico police announced its policy, most Greek organizations informed Henrico police they would not be attending NASCAR. Planned student participation dropped to the point where Henrico police decided the sequestration no longer necessary.
Some Richmond students still attended, and those who did generally reported an enjoyable, and arrest-free, day. Police officers were still checking students’ IDs, but most of those students were over 21. Senior Gaby Calabrese said, “Security definitely wasn’t as strict as everyone had expected. I know a few people were IDed . . . The majority of people there were 21 though.”
Senior John Mudry, 21, a member of Sigma Chi, said that during the tailgate, a man in jean shorts and a tank top confronted him, asking for ID. When Mudry refused, the man revealed a badge and then examined Mudry’s ID, questioning Mudry about his age.
Senior Kevin Bonnesen, a senior, said, “The police officers were all just doing their jobs, making sure everybody stays safe, and they did a fantastic job.”
Contact staff writer Ben Casella at firstname.lastname@example.org