I will be honest: mob scenes are no fun. I avoid football games, fraternities and mosh pits for that very reason. That, and because I hate warm beer cesspools.
This weekend, though, I tried to attend two bona fide mob scenes: the Senior Masquerade Ball, and the lecture by Reza Pahlavi, the heir to the throne of Iran.
Early on, there were signs that the masquerade would be the biggest social debacle since the Directed Studies Toga Party. There had been the ill-fated McDonald’s Senior Study Break, in which a handful of seniors tried to hoard 200 cheeseburgers. And there had been the incensed e-mail campaign heard around the Yale world, vehemently protesting the ball’s original location.
But somehow, our much-maligned Senior Class Council chairs pulled it off, organizing a party that was a success. Meanwhile, the organizers of the Shah’s talk grossly underestimated the amount of interest in the lecture, and left scores of students without any hope of getting into Sudler Hall to hear it.
Clearly, the Shah organizers must take note of a few lessons from the SCC. My suggestions:
1. Estimate for a realistic-sized crowd. The Senior Class Council expected the ball to attract at least a thousand people. They knew that they needed every one of Gotham Citi’s multiple dance floors, bars and lounges. Yale, by contrast, might have foreseen that Reza Pahlavi’s lecture would draw more than the 200 people Sudler Hall can hold. He is, after all, the heir to the throne of Iran. His lecture was entitled “The Current Crisis in the Middle East,” and was heavily advertised throughout Yale College and the graduate and professional schools. Didn’t anyone expect this would be an attraction?
2. Expect last-minute adjustments. On Tuesday of last week, the entire fate of the class of 2002 was at stake. Reacting against the news that underage seniors, or underage dates, would not be able to attend the event, certain self-styled senior activists mounted a mass e-mail campaign to “demand the SCC come up with an acceptable solution.” While some of these crusaders took it upon themselves to verbally abuse the dance’s organizers, the SCC chairs re-negotiated the event’s entire venue to meet everyone’s needs.
3. Offer an open bar. Sure, the lines to get into the masquerade ball were a little long. Sure, it was a little cold for those in “dominatrix” costumes.
But all was forgiven once seniors reached the saving grace of all social events: the open bar. Why worry about a lame date when you have your friend Smirnoff to keep you company? Do not sweat the small stuff.
Open bars also provide students incentive to arrive at events early in order to “get their money’s worth.” Had more people arrived at the Shah’s lecture well in advance, the organizers could possibly have determined the need for more space, and moved the venue.
Finally, open bars provide for the common good will. We’ve had enough of these ruffians who ask combative, challenging questions of speakers. Enough of the need for bodyguards to protect guests. Let everyone loosen up, and the night will go without a hitch.
You might argue that sometimes an open bar can be inappropriate, expensive, or gross. You might argue that in some circumstances, Long Island Iced Tea should stay away from a Master’s Tea.
Additionally, you might point out that enforcement of the legal drinking age might be impractical at the average Yale speaking event. With no Gotham Citi bouncer on hand, would Master Smith or Master “T” be forced to check IDs?
So perhaps Margaritaville isn’t the social magic bullet for every Yale-sponsored mob scene. Perhaps certain parents, alumni, and students would be enraged by the very notion. But if that is the case, then perhaps event organizers should think a little more carefully before organizing an over-attended event. Next time a Shah comes to town, I want to be able to get in the doors.
Frances Brown is a senior in Branford College. Her columns regularly appear on alternate Tuesdays.