When two Quinnipiac University seniors planned a small off-campus party in Hamden for last Saturday afternoon, they never expected the crowd they would draw – or the special guest.
John Lahey, the longtime president of Quinnipiac University, made a surprise visit. A video posted on YouTube shows Lahey with a microphone amid hundreds of college-aged people in the backyard of the Hamden home.
“You guys, Quinnipiac students are the greatest students in the world,” Lahey shouted to the cheering crowd.
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The hosts of the party, several Quinnipiac seniors who are about to graduate, said the party on Delsole Road grew much bigger than they had anticipated. Even days later, they were still unsure why Lahey suddenly arrived.
“We were not involved or in contact with trying to get him to come here,” said Rich Borek, who hosted the party with housemate Connor McNamara. “It just happened and he ended up in our backyard.”
Borek and McNamara said they had originally planned a small gathering for members of the senior class. But word of the party spread quickly on social media and attendance grew beyond control.
“Since it was May Weekend, everybody heard about it and it got way too out of hand,” McNamara said.
Lahey didn't seem to mind the party's size.
“You guys are living proof that May Weekend still exists,” Lahey said to the crowd, even though such parties have been said to have strained the relationship between the school and the community in the past.
Neighbors said Lahey drove away soon after he finished speaking to the guests.
NBC Connecticut contacted the university’s office of public affairs for an explanation as to why Lahey would attend such a party.
“We have a university president who likes and understands young people,” wrote Lynn Bushell, vice president for public affairs.
Besides the short written statement, there was no further explanation as to why Lahey was there.
Meanwhile, neighbors called the police to have the rest of the crowd peacefully dispersed.
“It just seemed like he got them more excited and then he just quickly left,” said Michael Schrader, who has lived in the neighborhood for two decades.
Schrader and other neighbors commended the hosts of the party for coordinating and cooperating with police officers to have the party broken up both quickly and peacefully.
Still, they were stunned to see Lahey on their street, especially amid the festivities.
“As a graduate of Quinnipiac University, I’m very much concerned and embarrassed about him being there,” Schrader said.
No injuries or arrests were reported.