Eight years ago, President John Lahey banned May weekend from the Quinnipiac campus. That ban didn’t stop more than 400 students from attending an off-campus party on sponsored by the app WiGo, however.
The ban also didn’t stop Lahey from making an appearance at the party to give a speech and take pictures with students.
“And you guys are living proof that May weekend still exists,” Lahey said in his speech during the surprise appearance. “I love you all, have a great weekend and stay safe.”
On Saturday, April 25, WiGo or “Who is Going Out,” an app used to make social plans on college campuses, held a party on Delsole Street in Hamden for Quinnipiac students. WiGo came to Quinnipiac after the school made it to the final four in the WiGo Madness tournament.
Seniors Connor McNamara, Rich Borek and Nick McCloskey then volunteered to host the party. They said they were surprised by the amount of students that showed up.
“We did not expect it to be what it was, we thought it was seniors only, and it clearly was not,” McNamara said.
Every neighbor The Chronicle interviewed said they did not have a problem with the party and spoke fondly of the resident students.
“Let me tell you something, these guys are so good. Connor [McNamara], the day before, talked to me and my wife, and talked to us in the morning,” said Jose Vazquez, the students’ next door neighbor.
Former Student Government Association Student Body President Mostafa Elhaggar reached out to Lahey and invited him to the event at Washington, according to Kenny Pilanski, a resident of the Washington Street house and friend of Elhaggar.
Pilanski said that he was looking forward to Lahey’s appearance.
“We knew that everyone would love to see him and wanted to extend the invitation to him to show him our appreciation for all that he has done for us,” Pilanski said.
According to Ronald Smith, captain of the Hamden Police Department, the police received an anonymous phone call informing the department about a large gathering of students, cars parked everywhere and public drinking on Delsole Street.
Smith said Hamden police were on scene at the house by 2:07 p.m. but were unable to completely clear the party until 3:01 p.m. due to the volume of students in attendance.
“For three hours straight people were walking from every direction to get to this thing. It was like Woodstock, for the bro generation,” said Art Mongillo, a neighbor and Quinnipiac alumnus of the class of ‘95.
The event was one of the largest gatherings of Quinnipiac students, according to Lahey.
“This is the biggest crowd of Quinnipiac Bobcats since the Yale hockey game,” Lahey said as the crowd erupted into cheers.
Lahey attended the event, taking selfies and interacting with students as he usually does during this particular weekend. He gave a speech to the crowd that is now streaming on YouTube under WiGo’s account (Check out quchronicle.com for the video). The video was also posted to a well-known website TotalFratMove.com with the headline “President of Quinnipiac University Flexes Rich Nuts In Front Of Students At Wigo Event.”
Borek was surprised to see Lahey at his house the day of the party.
“I had just walked out of the house and I saw a dude in a suit, and I was like ‘is that president Lahey’ then I knew it was officially insane,” he said.
Most students were happy to see Lahey at the event.
“The love between Lahey and his students is very much mutual. It’s means a lot to the senior class that he came out on Saturday,” Pilanski said.
Cassandra Bonenfant, a recent Western New England College graduate, attended the WiGo party and said she was surprised to see Lahey at the event.
“I thought it was awesome that the university’s president showed up,” Bonenfant said. “[My school’s] president was cool but never made an appearance at a party.”
Lahey mentioned how he’d never heard of Delsole Street before this past weekend.
“I didn’t even know this street existed, I’m gonna have to buy all these houses. I got all of New Road and most of Whitney Avenue but I didn’t realize – you’re all kind of tucked away back here,” he said.
Lahey’s presence might have pleased students, but certain residents were angry. Hollie Schraeder, a neighbor down the road of the house, tried speaking to Lahey but he did not speak to her. Schraeder plans on writing an open letter to one of Hamden’s local newspapers.
“The neighborhood here is very established,” she said. “The students here are very behaved. I don’t understand why he would just announce something like that, it sounds inappropriate.”
Lahey issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon, apologizing for comments he made at the party.
“In speaking to students at the house party, and in an obvious but ill-advised attempt to be humorous with them, I unfortunately made light of what is clearly a serious matter with respect to off-campus student housing in Hamden,” Lahey said in the statement. “I deeply regret having made these remarks, for which I sincerely apologize. I have already personally conveyed this apology to Interim Mayor Jim Pascarella and renewed my commitment to work with him and town officials to resolve these longstanding student housing issues in the immediate future.”
Wren Kruse, a graduate of the Quinnipiac Law School was also upset by what the president said.
“It just seems really arrogant, and I graduated from Quinnipiac law school so like he’s shitting on his alum[ni] when he says stuff like that. And he should work with the community rather than working against them,” she said.
The event had food trucks, an ice luge and handed out WiGo clothing apparel.
Ben Kaplan, the creator of WiGo, said Quinnipiac is “one of our most engaged schools.” Kaplan’s vision for WiGo is to bring people together in real life.
“This event epitomized my vision,” Kaplan said. “I couldn’t be happier.”
The university declined to comment on Lahey’s appearance.
UPDATED APRIL 29 12:20 P.M.: This article was updated to include a comment from President Lahey.