Parkersburg Art Center Releases Statement Regarding OU Sorority Incident

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Updated 5/26/2010

The Parkersburg Art Center's Board of Trustees released the following statement to WTAP on May 26th regarding the incident which took place March 6, 2010, when Ohio University's Pi Beta Phi Sorority
rented its space for their formal dinner-dance:

1. We did not call the police during the event, here's why: we were very concerned that the conduct of the sorority members and their dates would escalate into a riot, were the police called in, as recently happened in Marietta. This would have endangered the artwork on display in the gallery, which included works by art students at WVU-P, as well as other artists who have loaned us their artworks.

2. We run an art museum, and reporting the matter to the police AFTER the fact was something that did not occur to us. It is certainly not part of our regular routine. We support the Art Center in part through renting out our ballroom space for large events, and in the seven years we have been doing this, the need to call the police has never, ever come up before. All the rest of our many rentals have been to responsible people..never have we seen anything close to the sort of behavior which took place that night. When we filed a claim for repairs with our insurance carrier, we were informed that a police report was required, so we filed one promptly.

3. The National Sorority has used the media to accuse the Art Center
"inflating our claim," without ever having investigated, to see for
themselves, the extent of the damage to our facility. The assessment of the damages was made - NOT by the Art Center - but by an independent insurance adjuster hired by the insurance company, the WV Board of Risk Management (BRIM.)

4. The National Sorority also has used the media to claim that the Art
Center has a financial incentive in inflating the damages..again, a
statement made without any investigation. The Art Center relies upon
broad-based community support from the Mid-Ohio Valley area, in the form of memberships, fund-raisers, donations, grants, tuitions and rentals to support itself. Furthermore, insurance proceeds are intended to repair and replace damaged items and property; not for operation.

5. The National Sorority also alleged, falsely, that the Sorority was
"invited back," and that they were told their "patronage was welcome."
This is not true. The OU Pi Beta Phi Sorority is not welcome to return, and it was so advised. However, a few individual students - who had
disassociated themselves from the behavior going on in the ballroom - had expressed an interest in the Art Center. These young people were invited to come back to avail themselves of the Art Center's programs.

6. Any further inquiry should be directed to the WV Board of Risk
Management, which will be responsible for any further questions.


Athens, Ohio (AP) -- A national sorority suspended for misconduct at Miami University now has a second chapter in Ohio accused of destructive behavior at a formal.

However, the Ohio University chapter of Pi Beta Phi says the West Virginia gallery that hosted the event is making "Grossly Exaggerated" claims.

An attorney says the Parkersburg Art Center sustained $46,555 in damage from the sorority's winter formal March 6.

Lawyer Richard Hayhurst says food was thrown around, drinks were dumped out on floors, and a sink was pulled from a wall when a couple tried to have sex on it.

Pi Beta Phi maintains in a statement that the only problem that occurred was beer taps were taken from the art center.

Ohio University said Monday it's investigating the allegations.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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