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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Better planning imperative for events

Published: November 14, 2014
Section: Opinions

Each semester I have been here, some event has happened that made me question Brandeis’ competency in event organization. Usually, it has to do with food or commencement speakers, but in this case, it happened to be an event smack dab in the middle of the semester.

The famed library party, which the school officially organizes, got shut down by the school’s own police. Student Events claimed in a Facebook post that they “couldn’t let people upstairs because we were reaching the weight limit of upper green room … The police was called because of over capacity and security issues with the line outside … it was out of our control. We have to keep in line with the safety regulations, it was becoming a safety issue for everyone.” That was an understatement. Through personal research, the line to get into the party went as far as Gerstenzang; by some accounts, it went as far as Rosenthal Residence Halls. This was with both the Upper and Lower Green rooms of Farber Library at full capacity. Then Brandeis police shut down this Brandeis party. Think about that—a party run by the school was shut down by school forces because there were too many people. The only axiom I can think of to say to Student Events is, “If you can’t handle the time, don’t do the crime.”

Brandeis is not a party school. We do not have fraternities and sororities recognized by the school. At Brandeis, the nightlife on campus is abysmal. When schools themselves host parties, they usually have the adequate security, supplies, planning and room necessary. As Brandeis proved Saturday night with the library party, it lacked this type of foresight and planning. By having little room, it crowded the party. By closing it down with a huge number of angry people waiting outside, it risked trampling. No one got hurt Saturday night, but it was not outside the realm of possibility. Brandeis erred greatly Saturday night, and it is by sheer luck that no one got hurt, trampled, assaulted or worse.

If Brandeis ever wishes to throw a party again, it must learn from this utter fiasco. Firstly, more people than you expect will show up. If you think only 200 will come to the only social function available on a weekend night when there is no class the next day, you are purely ignorant. If you think 500 will come, plan for 1,000. If you think a 1,000 will come, plan for twice that. It is better to have an empty space than a tin of sardines.

Secondly, don’t shut it down immediately then and there. Shutting an intensely packed party has led to dangerous situations on other campuses in the past. I once went to a party at UMass Amherst which got shut down. When I heard that the party was shutting down, I headed for higher ground. If I hadn’t, I would have been trampled by the thousands of people, irate, drunk and high, who had to flee the area. Most people, when kicked out of a party, don’t go to bed. They go somewhere else to continue their night. Instead of inciting a mob, students should be let slowly out of the party in droves.

Thirdly, a party needs to be organized. Stopping people and making them wait on a cold fall night because they “couldn’t let people upstairs because we were reaching the weight limit of upper green room” is not acceptable. Maybe the party should not have taken place on the mezzanine, or they should have used the other three floors of Farber. There was a whole wing of the library not used at the Library Party. That was poor planning and a waste of resources. Plan in advance. Put the party in a place where people can go to it, and decrease waiting time to get in.

Brandeis cannot throw good parties because it is not a party school. The institution is not used to the outflow of people that party shutdowns can cause. The Library Party will not be forgotten, but not because it was good. It was a fiasco that shamed a new aspect of Brandeisian character: the little social life this school has.