Alcohol use marks Safety Dance

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Photo by Juliet Liu.

Alcohol may have been more popular than ’80s music at Safety Dance last Friday.

Silliman College Master Judith Krauss NUR ’70, whose college sponsors the dance party, said five to six students were hospitalized for alcohol-related illness this weekend. While she added that this year’s number of hospitalizations is slightly down from the eight hopsitalizations of last year, 12 students present at the dance said the event was just as alcohol-soaked as last year’s — if not more.

“If there were only a single hospitalization, I’d say we saw an improvement,” she said. “I wish we could find a way to encourage students to not drink to such excess.”

She added that she doesn’t think the way students consumed alcohol before the event at “pregames” has changed. Last year, she identified these parties as the primary culprit behind student hospitalizations.

Megan Boon ’11, head freshman counselor of Berkeley College, said that the Office of Student Affairs was proactive in preventing any drinking-related problems. She added that the office had given each residential college pizzas, encouraging them to host non-alcoholic parties prior to the Safety Dance. The goal of this initiative, she said, was to ensure that students “had food before going out” so they would at least have a full stomach if anything were to happen to them during or after the dance.

Additionally, Boon said that a few freshman counselors per residential college were given free access to the Safety Dance.

“They were at the dance to keep an eye out for excessively drunk students,” she said. “But they weren’t there like flies on the wall; they were there as a resource, not as security guards, and they were dancing and having fun too.”

Boon added that, overall, she heard only positive reviews of this year’s Safety Dance as it compared to last year’s.

Krauss said that ticket sales ended at midnight instead of continuing until the dance ended at 1 a.m., and that no one was allowed to enter the dance after midnight regardless of whether they had already purchased a ticket. These were just some of the changes made to the event by Silliman’s activities and administrative council “to cut down on excessively drunk people,” said spring 2010 SAAC chair Jesse Hassinger ’11. Hassinger said that in previous years, most of the extremely intoxicated guests would begin to arrive around 11:30 p.m., or would leave early to drink more and then return to the dance. Though he could not attend this year’s dance, Hassinger said that the new measures were relatively successful, to his knowledge.

But of 18 students interviewed, 12 attended the dance and five said that the event was a lot more “drunk” than they expected it would be.

Stephanie Weinraub ’12 said she has attended the dance every year since her freshman year. When she arrived at Commons at about 11:45 p.m. Friday, Weinraub said, she saw the results of students’ alcohol consumption firsthand.

“There was vomit all over the stairs down to the [women’s] bathroom [in Commons],” Weinraub said. “Two girls were unconscious on the [bathroom] floor with police officers surrounding them.”

Victoria Perez ’11, a Berkeley College freshman counselor who attended Safety Dance, said she saw a student wheeled out of Commons on a stretcher just before midnight. Weinraub said she had to take an inebriated friend to Yale HEALTH around 12:30 a.m. — 30 minutes before the dance ended. The mini-bus driver who picked up Weinraub and her friend told the pair that their call was his 24th trip to Yale HEALTH that night, Weinraub said.

Donald Relihan, director of support services for Yale Transit, could not be reached for comment.

A freshman who asked to remain anonymous said she thinks many people seemed to have enjoyed the “pregame” parties before the dance more than the event itself. She said she didn’t enjoy the dance as much as she could have because she was sober.

Some students had mixed feelings about the dance. All six juniors and seniors interviewed said they liked the music played at the dance. Adi Kamdar ’12 said the music was “danceable” even when he didn’t recognize the songs, adding he enjoyed the dance each of the three times he attended. But three of four freshmen interviewed said the dance did not live up to their expectations, especially with regard to the music played.

“It was fun to dress up but the music wasn’t really relevant to us,” said Sally Helm ’14, adding that she expects Branford College’s annual ’90s dance, Crushes and Chaperones, to be better.

Financially speaking, Krauss said, this year’s Safety Dance was a great success, with over 2,500 tickets sold compared to last year’s 2,000. Adam Weiner ’12, current chair of the SAAC, said that once all 2,500 wristbands were sold out, they began selling stamps instead. He added that over 2,000 of the wristbands were sold prior to the dance at a cost of $5, and that this avoided large crowds lining up at the door the night of the dance, when wristbands cost $10.

Weiner said that the operating costs of the Safety Dance, including the cost of the DJ, rise every year. He added that last year, the SAAC lost money because an inebriated student broke some of the DJ’s equipment. This year, ticket prices were raised to prevent such deficits, Weiner said, and a police officer was added to the security team to monitor the DJ’s equipment throughout the dance. Overall, Krauss said, there were no major security issues during the event. “We at least broke even this year, and if we do make any money, it won’t be very significant,” Weiner said.

Dean of student affairs W. Marichal Gentry deferred comment to Krauss and Silliman Dean Hugh Flick, who could not be reached for comment.

The next campus-wide dance will be Morse and Ezra Stiles Colleges’ second annual Prohibition, on Nov. 6.

Comments

  • penny_lane

    Master K! The answer to your question:

    1. Lower the drinking age to 18.

    However, since Yale has no control over that…

    2. Give the students a damn fall break!

    (edit: I definitely typed a 2 for the second one, but it appears as a 1. Strange.)

  • yale

    I like Yale’s alcohol policy: let’s give kids free pizza so they can at least drink on a full stomach.

  • hcronon

    I think it was naive of the administration to think that the precautions that it took to prevent against drunkenness at Safety Dance would work. It *might* have been effective to forbid students from registering parties on Friday night, but even that probably wouldn’t have helped much. Regardless, closing the dance early only ran the risk of encouraging students to binge to an even greater extent so that they could maintain their inebriation for the entire dance. I have attended Safety Dance twice since freshman year–Saturday was my third time–and I have yet to see a significant change in the drinking atmosphere of the dance. Changing the rules only goes so far. In order to cut down on trips to DUH on weekends (yes, all weekends), the Yale administration and the students need to work to change the drinking culture. And yes, a drinking age of 18 would help. Oh well…

  • wlys

    I’d like to thank Sally Helm ’14 for the dumbest quote I’ve ever seen in a YDN article. What kind of music did you expect at an 80′s dance?

  • FailBoat

    > I’d like to thank Sally Helm ’14 for the dumbest quote I’ve ever seen in a YDN article. What kind of music did you expect at an 80′s dance?

    I don’t think Ms. Helm expressed surprise at the relevance of the music – it was merely an observation.

    But by all means, go froth at the mouth some more.

  • Yalie11

    > Alcohol use marks Safety Dance

    In other news “Pope is Catholic”