Photo by Heidi Rink
Last week the Kappa Delta sorority discovered that glitter is prohibited in the Student Union and is punishable via hefty fine after an incident on Bid Day. The Northerner decided to take a look at this little-known policy at NKU and other area universities.
Screaming, excited girls crowded into room 109 of the Student Union, eagerly making preparations to welcome new members into Kappa Delta. Dressed in matching dark tank tops, the girls added gold body glitter to their arms and created sparkly signs to represent their sorority at NKU’s annual Bid Day.
The girls were unaware of one of the Student Union’s little-known policies: glitter is prohibited in the building and carries a minimum $200 fine.
“They warned us about it when they saw us using glitter that day but we kind of were too knee-deep in activities to really change it,” said Taylor Vick, president of Kappa Delta.
After taking part in Bid Day, several members of Kappa Delta returned to the room to clean up the glittery mess that had been tracked through the student union. Despite their best efforts, the chapter was fined $200 in damages.
“I thought they did a really, really good job cleaning up, but unfortunately the damage was already done,” Kim Vance, director of fraternity and sorority life, said. “Someone had to pressure wash the sidewalks outside I think.”
A meeting that was to be held later in the day in room 109 was moved because traces of glitter remained in the room.
The no-glitter policy, in place since the opening of the Student Union, had seemingly been forgotten.
The glitter prohibition
According to Chris Tambling, associate director of the Student Union and engagement, the policy banning glitter has been in the Student Union policy manual since 2008 when the new building opened. It states that glitter, sequins, confetti, or sand items may not be used.
“The director, Sarah [Aikman] has been in the business for a long time, and so she brought that policy to our student union as well, just with her experience,” Tambling said.
The rule was also added to the fraternity and sorority rules regarding recruitment after an incident occurred shortly after the opening of the student union.
“The first year we were in the Student Union and held recruitment, somebody used an item that had glitter and it caused a huge mess and that was the end of that,” Vance said.
Several years passed without incident until the scene at last week’s Bid Day. The turning over of leaders across NKU’s organizations may be to blame for a lack of knowledge of the rules, according to Vance.
“When the policy was first developed several years ago, the students that were here for that and understand why that happened, they’re gone,” Vance said. “So students that are students now don’t recognize that because we just don’t have glitter on stuff. I don’t think they’ve even thought about why we don’t have glitter.”
According to Sarah Aikman, director of student union and engagement, glitter is prohibited simply because it is so difficult to clean up. Custodians are consulted to determine the best possible way of removal.
“Glitter is a horrible, horrible thing to clean up,” Aikman said. “If you go into the multipurpose room and look at the booths, there’s glitter all over the booths from an event that was in there. And we tell groups glitter is not permitted in the building because it ruins everything.”
Glitter at area universities
According to Aikman, glitter is banned from many student unions and student centers across the United States.
At Western Kentucky University’s brand new Dero Downing Student Union, the glitter issue has already been addressed.
Rachel McDivitt, a graduate assistant at WKU, said that the auditorium policy states, “The use of glitter by the user and guest is prohibited. Users in violation of this policy are subject to suspension of reservation privileges of University center facilities and minimum of $40 cleaning fee. An additional cleaning fee will be charged at $20 per hour.”
The University of Kentucky has a similar policy.
“We don’t allow it. I don’t know that we have a prescribed fine, but we don’t allow it because it’s so hard to clean up,” Chris Franklin, assistant director of security and operations at UK, said. “I don’t think we catch everybody beforehand, but we know that whenever they do use it, it’s so difficult to clean up.”
At the University of Cincinnati, however, there are no rules regarding the use of glitter.
“That sounds actually really unusual to us,” Phelim Thach, a UC student and campus employee, said. “I asked a couple of the building supervisors and another person and maybe it’s because we’re north of the river, I don’t know.”
To prevent future incidents involving glitter, Tambling said that the education of different organizations on campus is key.
“We’ve continued to try to educate them and learn from these incidents that have happened in the past,” Tambling said. “We have off-campus groups that use our facilities as well, such as high schools.”
Tambling said that the policy will be reiterated through Vance in the future to fraternities and sororities.
As for Kappa Delta, the chapter plans to divide the fine among active members and move forward.
“Typically when things like that happen, we split it up between members, so I think members have to pay like $2.00 each,” Vick said.
The fee will likely be added to member dues.
“We have strict budgets throughout the year, so when things like this happen it’s kind of an issue too because you don’t want to be using money for something that you’ve already set aside for something else,” Vick said.
Vick said the chapter understands that glitter is a “nuisance” to the facility and why the policy is in place.
“It wasn’t intentional, we weren’t intentionally disregarding the rules, we just didn’t really commit it to memory and just didn’t think about it and just kind of went along with our plans and ended up finding up there was a big fine associated with using glitter in the student union,” she said.
Vance also believes that the sorority’s intentions were harmless.
“Nothing was intentional, it wasn’t malicious, I think it was just not well thought out,” Vance said. “Everyone wants to make things pretty and special and stuff like that, and there has to be a better way than that. We need to find a glitter substitute and I don’t know what that is.”