All parties at fault: fallout from fundraiser disaster could’ve been better handled

By Staff

March 28, 2014

When we heard about the incident at the Wyeth-Tootle mansion, we had a hard time believing that a night in St. Joseph could sound so much like a rough draft script of “The Hangover: Part 4.”

Although, at first, it seemed like the party’s patrons were solely to blame for the thousands of dollars in damage and gunfire outside the mansion, it turns out there’s more to the story.

Yes, a partygoer did damage a priceless painting of St. Joseph’s founder, but the painting was left sitting on the ground by the door of the building, which the museum clearly knew in advance would be rented out.

Not only that, but the museum’s director acknowledged that the painting was surely damaged after a gun was fired outside the building, as attendees rushed back into the building for safety.

We’re sorry, but we would probably be a little more concerned about dodging bullets than being cautious of priceless artwork left lying around like dirty laundry.

Not only that, but the shooter was unidentified, and both the police and museum understand that there it’s possible that he was not affiliated with the party whatsoever.

Now, the sorority is culpable when it comes to other damages, which ate up their entire $200 deposit. However, the damaged painting alone is estimated to cost upwards of $3,000.

After looking at the facts of the matter -- if we were the Deltas -- we might take our chances in civil court against the museum. The evidence is not especially compelling for either side, and both seem to be somewhat at fault, but a coin flip is better than paying for something that your organization is not necessarily responsible for.

It’s important to note that the Deltas have already agreed to work out a way to pay for the damages by May 31, and they’ve already surrendered the damage deposit and an additional $300 in good faith.

They also claim they purchased event insurance, though the Griffon News was unable to substantiate that claim after requests for documentation were not answered.

In addition, they hired security for the event and did not serve any alcohol, even though the mansion’s policy does not ban alcohol at their events.

When looking at this case, there is a more removed third party involved: Missouri Western as a whole.

Western’s response to the issue has been to suspend the sorority and asking to be kept in the loop when it comes to the group’s payment to the museum.

It’s kind of like spanking your children in public -- nobody else really wants or needs to see a display of discipline; they’d prefer your kid just stop behaving badly in front of them.

The museum, which is managed under the umbrella of the St. Joseph Museums, and therefore serves as an extension of Western’s relationship with the community, already has a bad taste in their mouth after the experience. The museum director has gone on record stating that they won’t be renting to any Griffon Greeks, and that’s a real shame for all the other Greek organizations on campus.

The point is, dragging along the museum after agreeing to cover the bill is bad PR for Western, and we’d feel more comfortable if the university nipped the problem in the bud by paying the tab upfront. They can worry about collecting from the sorority on their own time, but it’s not a good practice to drag such a prevalent community organization along for months.

And what happens if the sorority can’t come up with the dough to pay the piper when May 31 comes around?

Let’s hope this issue is resolved as promptly as possible, and that Western isn’t afraid to step in to mitigate the situation.