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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

From Modfest to Purple Rain

Published: October 27, 2006
Section: Opinions

It seems like everyone has been talking about moratoriums these days. It began with Modfest.

Last fall, Modfest was placed on an indefinite moratorium for numerous reasons. Depending on whom you asked, the moratorium resulted from an event with too much noise, racial slurs, or the closing of Newton-Wellesley Emergency Room because of an overflow of Brandeis student transports.

The Student Union began brainstorming about how to bring back the traditional event last April. Then Director of Social Affairs Edgar Ndjatou met with current Union officials to discuss the issues that would arise in the fall. He stressed perseverance and faithfulness to the constituency above all.

Union officials continued a vigorous discussion over the summer. The result was a new idea for an altered Modfest. The event would begin with live music at 3pm. As the afternoon progressed, the music would get heavier and eventually morph into a club atmosphere with a DJ. Director of Communications Brian Paternostro put it best when he discussed the reasoning for this event: The theory behind this was Most people aren't going to wake up at noon and say damn, I need a Heineken.

President Alison Schwartzbaum presented this idea to Dean of Student Life Rick Sawyer over the summer. He expressed some concerns, mostly involving the need for a noise permit and a fear of disturbing Brandeis neighbors.

And so the ball had to keep rolling, and we had to keep thinking.

When we returned to school, Cindy Kaplan, the current Director of Social Affairs and Josh Karpoff, 07 Senator met with Sawyer and Associate Dean of Student Life Alwina Bennett. The four discussed the administrations concerns regarding the event the reputation, pregaming, and safety and possible solutions. Some ideas included a Modfest for upperclassmen only, Student Union sponsorship of Underground Modfests, and a Modfest during the day. The date discussed for these programs was October 21.

This date became a large focus in campus media and stalled discussion. The mention of the date at a Senate meeting was misunderstood by some reporters and led to an article that was misunderstood by administrators. In addition to working on proposals for the event, the Union had to do damage control and explain the true story to the administration.

Once trust was reestablished, the Union began to think of more ways to ensure Modfest would happen. On September 18th, the E-Board met to discuss the possibility of a name-change. This idea was based on Rick Sawyers suggestion to either change the event itself or to change its name. An event called Festival of the Mods was born. The event would be entirely the same as Modfest with the following additions: sparse and confusing advertising reflecting the name rather than the event, an alcohol awareness week preceding the event, extra Public Safety officers, and the theme A Celebration of Temporary Housing. Sawyer appreciated the idea, and suggested we take the next step in planning.

Kaplan and Schwartzbaum immediately met with Director of Public Safety Ed Callahan and presented him with three proposals Upperclassmen Modfest, Daytime Modfest, and Festival of the Mods. It was only then that he told us that the event would and could never happen in the Mods again. Due to events past, he had determined that the Mods were an uncontrollable location that caused too many problems. He suggested an event in Levin Ballroom and Yakkus Plaza with a theme.

However, there is no originality to a Levin Ballroom event, and the Student Union understood that this could never compare to Modfest. Despite the urging of many administrators, the Student Union believed that another Levin event was simply too run of the mill.

Callahans main concern was enclosure and so the Student Union adjusted its plans.
Paternostro thought of a party on the Tennis Courts. This idea evolved into an event called 15Luv, which would entail a beer garden in the Upper Courts and a dance floor in the Lower Courts. E-board presented this idea to Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Jean Eddy, who was extremely supportive. She contacted Director of Student Activities Stephanie Grimes and Director of Athletics Sheryl Sousa to inform them that the Student Union would soon bring proposals for the event. Sousa expressed concern that the courts would be ruined by beer, cigarettes, and non-tennis shoes. We offered to coat the courts in tarp and ban cigarettes and non-tennis shoes from the courts. If this would still not suffice, Kaplan suggested moving the event to the practice field. We wrote two proposals, one for 15Luv and one for the practice field event, Just Fest Off. These were sent to Grimes, Sawyer, Sousa, Eddy, and Bennett. The administration was supportive of 15Luv until it was discovered that there is only one entrance in and out of the tennis courts, which would create a fire hazard. At this point, Schwartzbaum challenged Sawyer to actively pursue a compromise. The Mods were not an option according to the administration and Levin was not an option for us. On October 6th Sawyer suggested the Great Lawn, and we accepted.

Immediately following that meeting, Kaplan met with Grimes to discuss details of the event and to reserve the space. October 20th was the only feasible date for the Union due to FallFest and weather concerns of early November. The space was reserved Friday afternoon and confirmed by Monday October 9th. We began the initial planning for the event.

Needless to say, we were surprised to see an article in the Justice on Tuesday morning that highlighted administrative concerns regarding the date. We learned later Tuesday afternoon that the Alumni Association had placed the Lawn on hold because of an Alumni Weekend event occurring the next day in Shapiro Campus Center. We had not been told that this would be an issue that would cancel or postpone the event;

rather we had been assured that the administration trusted our capabilities to handle this challenge. When we booked the Great Lawn we had been given the green light despite some of the concerns, and then were told, only after the Justice reported it, that all was not set.

We were not willing to back down once we had made it this far, so we formulated a cohesive plan to assuage the administrations concerns with the date and location. At One-Stop on Tuesday, after a powerful presentation, all the administrators involved in scheduling and planning campus-wide events approved the event on the contingency that the Alumni Association released its hold on the Lawn.

By Wednesday, October 11, the event and its date were confirmed, and thus Purple Rain was created. Because of its roots and it numerous identity changes, the events name and theme were clear The Event Formerly Known AsPurple Rain will occur on Friday November 3 from 10pm-2am.

Cindy Kaplan, Brian Paternostro, and Alison Schwartzbaum,
Student Union