As members of the American Red Cross at Yale learned this week, no good deed goes unpunished.
For several years, the student group has held its seasonal blood drives in Payne Whitney Gymnasium. When scheduling conflicts arose this year for the group’s four-day Yale-Harvard blood drive, the organizers turned to an alternative location: Toad’s Place. But after a Red Cross site inspector decided Monday afternoon that the York Street nightclub was too dimly lit to host the blood drive, student coordinators and Red Cross officials scrambled to find a new location. Eventually, they decided to hold Tuesday’s drive at Sterling Memorial Library’s lecture hall, while today’s and Thursday’s drives will be at the Afro-American Cultural Center. Still, the organizers and the owner of Toad’s Place said they are disappointed by Monday’s cancelation.
Toad’s had been inspected and approved for past blood drives, said Margaret Yim ’12, this year’s co-coordinator. The Red Cross liaison, Brenda Wagner, said she even rented extra lights to prevent lighting from becoming an issue this year. But Yim said inspectors told them Monday that the lighting at Toad’s did not meet FDA regulations and so the club could not host the drive.
Left with few options, Yim and Wagner, alongside fellow coordinators Monica Liu ’11 and Tina Su ’11, canceled Monday’s drive.
Though Wagner said this is the first time a Yale drive has been canceled the day of due to site issues, it is hardly unprecedented for the American Red Cross.
“There are so many things that are not in our control,” Wagner said. “We always have to err on the side of caution.”
About 500 students registered to donate blood during this week’s blood drive, the highest slated turnout yet for a Yale-Harvard drive, Wagner said. But because of Monday’s cancellation, Yim said, this number may not predict how many students will actually turn out. And though enthusiasm has been high this year, Yim said it is difficult to project how many appointments will turn into actual donations.
About 150 students were registered for Monday’s drive, the largest single-day total Yim said she has seen in her three years coordinating the Harvard-Yale blood drive. Unable to accommodate all these students in the remaining days of the drive, Yim said, ARCY has been considering possible make-up dates before spring break, Yim said. But this can be difficult, because the planning for these drives takes place largely over the summer, Yim explained, and Red Cross workers are booked for weeks in advance.
Further complicating the process of rescheduling is the issue of space: Despite its size, Yale has a shortage of rooms large enough for blood donation, Wagner said.
The SML Lecture Hall and the Af-Am House can only accommodate one-half to three-quarters as many people as Toad’s, though the Red Cross will also park a donation bus on Park street outside the Af-Am House today and Thursday. And the cancellation this week has made long waits likely, Yim said.
In the past, Toad’s Place owner Brian Phelps said, Toad’s has been an active supporter of ARCY — blood drives have been held at Toad’s before — and in 2008, Toad’s Place hosted a benefit concert.
“I was disappointed,” Phelps said, of being unable to host the drive. “I thought it was a good thing to do for the community. I’m just trying to do my part.”
Still, Yim said, several of the students asked to register to give blood seemed dubious about the prospect of having a blood drive at Toad’s.
The blood drive is set up as a competition between Yale and Harvard to provide extra incentive to potential donors, Yim said. After the drive ends, the dean of the losing college is photographed wearing apparel from the opposing college.
In the blood drive’s six-year history, Yale has defeated Harvard three times, lost once, and in 2008, the two schools tied, each with just under 300 donations at the end of the drive.