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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Pachanga crowd requires Public Safety intervention

Published: October 27, 2006
Section: News

Public Safety Officers intervened to control a crowd of students attempting to enter Pachanga, the International Club-sponsored dance that occurred Saturday night after the crowd began pushing towards the entrance, injuring one student. The officers shut the doors to the event for approximately fifteen minutes and reopened them once order was restored in the crowd.

We told [the officers] it was their job, and we said if you think the safety is about to be violated then please shut the door, said Pachanga Coordinator Yuki Hasegawa 09. So it was their choice, but we told them beforehand, because safety is the most important thing. Both Public Safety Officers and ancillary night security were present at the event, according to the Office of Public Safety.

The doors opened for the dance at 10:00 p.m. Saturday, but very few people arrived at that time, according to Hoot reporters present at the scene. The dance saw steady admittance until people began arriving in larger numbers at around 11:00 p.m.

Due to the long process necessary to enter the building, which required purchasing a ticket if one hadnt already and also passing through a metal detector, the line began to back up into the plaza in the middle of the Usdan Student Center. By 11:30 p.m. it was nearly impossible to get in, as there were dozens of people amassed outside waiting for entrance.

The situation finally reached a breaking point as people began pushing forward, which had a ripple effect throughout the crowd. Once students began to get crushed in the crowd the officers intervened.

It was a long line, cited Gayle Gordon 08, a student who was also trying to enter the event. The police had to eventually be called.

Hasegawa cites reentries, students who had already entered the dance, left, and were attempting to get back inside as the main cause of the crowd buildup.
The biggest problem, he said, was people bought tickets, went out for a cigarette or whatever, then tried to push back in. Learning from that, we want to cut down reentries.

Director of Public Safety Ed Callahan agreed, stating that “the problem mainly lied with the two line system and the problems involved with reentry.” Callahan also observed that the line was like a mob scene.

Hasegawa added, As much as everybody heard from rumors, only one person was [treated by BemCo]. There were no serious injuries reported, and no students were taken to the hospital.

Callahan, however, noted problems other than injuries. He said that a night security handheld metal detector, worth $200, was stolen, a student vomited into a water cooler, and one women was pushed over forcefully enough to knock off her shoes.
“I'll be meeting with Pachanga officials to discuss better ways of managing the event,” said Callahan.

Hasegawa also mentioned that the International Club will take this years difficulties into account when planning next years Pachanga by possibly having two metal detectors or a different line for students who bought tickets ahead of time. He also explained that the safety precautions went beyond simply having police officers present.

“We made sure doors and rooms [in Usdan] were locked so that “no one could drink or do anything illegal, he said, noting that in past years this has been a problem at the Pachanga event. However, he stated that the temporary closing of the doors was necessary for the safety of the people inside, as well as the staff.”