“House the Hub,” a charity concert meant to raise funds to support the homeless population in New Brunswick, was shut down less than an hour after it began on April 22.
The charity concert was meant to help the homeless through proceeds raised by ticket sales and donations, said Jasmeet Bawa, one of the concert’s organizers.
Students began planning the event in February, when they first booked the College Avenue Student Center multipurpose room, she said. While they initially booked it for a gala, they decided early in March that they would prefer a larger event.
“We’re a student organization focused on alleviating homelessness in New Brunswick so we’ll do support-related things,” the School of Arts and Sciences senior said. “We also focus on preventative measures, so recently we started working with the nonprofit ‘Coming Home’ … the concert was to raise funds for them.”
The event was cancelled briefly on April 18 by the group’s Student Affairs advisor, Karen Ardizzone, but allowed to proceed on April 19 after a meeting with organizers.
Missing information usually causes cancellation notices, Ardizzone said in an email. She did not explain why the event was later restarted.
An unnamed Rutgers University Police Department officer told another member of the group to shut down the event a few hours before it was scheduled to begin, Bawa said.
“We walked outside to see if anyone was drinking or smoking cigarettes and we didn’t see anyone so we walked back in after 15 minutes,” she said. “The officer didn’t come back … so we thought it was unrelated to the event. The officer went away so we just continued prepping for the concert.”
The event was formally cancelled again a few hours later, Bawa said. There were no RUPD officers on-site at this time who identified themselves to the organizers.
Officers did show up about half an hour later, Bawa said.
“We walked up to them and asked why the event was shut down, and the first person we spoke to said she (had) just started her shift and didn’t know the details, but if substances were found, then the event has to be shut down,” she said.
University Spokesperson E.J. Miranda said the event was shut down by the Rutgers University Police Department and Student Affairs representatives after they found alcohol at the student center.
Alcohol and illegal drugs are not allowed to be in the student centers due to University policy, he said.
They later found an empty bottle of cognac outside the graduate student lounge, Bawa said.
While they did not find any alcohol on the performers or guests, RUPD did allegedly find alcohol inside the graduate student lounge later.
“(RUPD) was really unclear about (why the event was shut down),” Bawa said. “They just said that they found (the cognac) and that our advisor was already trying to shut down the event. They made it sound like we could un-cancel the event.”
Upon checking in with Ardizzone, the organizers learned that “substances” were found, which would make the cancellation definite, Bawa said.
“There were various factors and specifics which led to the decision, most significantly were issues related to violations of student center policies,” Ardizzone said.
Ardizzone did not respond to further requests for comment, including an explanation of which University policies were violated, by press time.
Student Affairs is currently reviewing the events of the night to see if there were any violations of school policies, Miranda said.
“I feel absolutely awful,” Bawa said. “I feel like I wasted time with so many people … we had performers from all over coming, especially a lot of local artists … someone with the nonprofit (was there). We didn’t expect to raise $10,000, we expected to raise a few thousand but we didn’t even get the chance to do that.”
The group does intend to continue supporting the charity. While they are still working out the details, any guests who bought tickets in advance will have the option to receive a refund. The remaining proceeds will still be donated, she said.
“We feel that we made some mistakes along the way, so with some more planning over the summer we would be interested in doing this event,” Bawa said. “However, I don’t think a lot of us are feeling too happy about it right now and we’ll probably do it outside Rutgers.”
Nikhilesh De is a School of Engineering junior. He is the news editor for The Daily Targum. Follow him on Twitter @nikhileshde for more.