Sunday brunch chatter this past weekend was more than just a recap of costuming and antics of Halloween the night before. Instead: Baile Terror in Atwater Dining. What happened?
From various accounts both inside and outside both confirmed and unconfirmed:
- Beginning: The doors for Baile Terror began at 11PM. Within 45 minutes, the dance filled to capacity. The standing capacity of Atwater dining is the 500 range. For this event, Atwater dining was enclosed with curtains to keep folks out of the kitchen and capacity went down to 300 range.
- One way in, one way out: There was one door stationed with Green Mountain Security, hired to ensure the safety of the event. As with most events, 5-6 Green Mountain Security workers attend. They are responsible for counting capacity of the venue, making sure drunk students don’t get in, making sure alcohol is not brought in, and ensuring that things stay under control. Rumor has it that some students tried to get in back and side doors of Atwater. No, there were no successful attempts to get in to Atwater from the green roof. Some people were continuing to smuggle in alcohol.
- “The mob”: Because the dance filled to capacity (and over) quickly, a mass of people started to congregate outside waiting to get in. This is not uncommon. Just think about the days of waiting in line to get into the Bunker. By some estimates there were an additional several hundred people outside waiting to get in. After waiting awhile, the crowd began to become restless partially because they did not know the reason for not being able to get inside.
- The “assault”: This is where things get hazy. In waiting, apparently someone broke a glass bottle (on purpose or not) and a girl ended up being pushed into the broken glass area. This is not confirmed.
- The fireworks: Fireworks near Chateau went off. These are illegal fireworks, enough said.
- Music Off: At some point, Public Safety shut down the DJs of the event for ten minutes, likely as a way to disperse the crowd. Instead of leaving the event, people inside just milled until the music returned.
- The liquor inspector: There’s a rumor that the liquor inspector showed up and had a confrontation with Public Safety about the running of the event.
- Officer Chris: At some point, Officer Chris took two steps of action. 1) He shut down the event and 2) He got in the middle of the crowd and made an announcement to the mob.
- Exit: People inside were asked to leave.
- Outside: Students continued milling around the Atwater area, moving primarily to the suites and suite stairwells.
People didn’t have anywhere to go — and that’s when things get crazy. Of particular note, it seems the communication broke down repeatedly. Mass groups of people need information: why is no one getting in the party? how long will it be before they get in? should they leave or stay? what’s going on inside? MCAB needs information: if they party is shut down, why? if the DJs music is shut off, why? as the organizers of the event, how can they help? what options do they have?
Public Safety and Green Mountain need to provide information and communicate frequently both the event-goers and event organizers. Just as PSafe has a relationship (however superficial) with ResLife staff in dorms, they need to know the people running the party and communicate with them. If PSafe comes to a party in a room, who do they ask for? The person who lives in the room. The same should apply for bigger events — talk to the event organizers. Also, PSafe needs a blowhorn to communicate with crowds a la Alex Benepe and Quidditch. Green Mountain seemed downright useless in these situations.
It’s interesting that there wasn’t another event going on that night. It’s not MCAB’s fault — they don’t own social life on campus. They have every other Thurs-Sat night of the semester to plan too. But perhaps an additional event would act as a escape valve for situations like this. Ultimately, that responsibility fell to the Atwater suites collectively. No, the Animal House movie in McCullough does not count.
Did we survive? Yes. Learning experiences all around.