Safety dance canceled

Silliman College has decided to cancel all future Safety Dances after eight hospitalizations followed Saturday’s event.

In a Monday night email to the News following this week’s Silliman Activities and Administrative Committee meeting, Safety Dance organizers Nicole De Santis ’15 and Hannah Fornero ’15 announced that the “risk and liability of the Safety Dance are too great for us to continue having it.” Though new efforts were made at this year’s Safety Dance to help improve student safety, binge drinking and hospital transports still dominated the event. Silliman College Master Judith Kraus said three students were transported from the dance site to Yale-New Haven Hospital, and that another five were transported from several other locations on campus — marking a significant increase from last year’s five students in total. Krauss said that aside from those students transported due to intoxication, many others were excessively intoxicated and engaged in inappropriate behavior.

“There were countless incidents inside the dance, most of them unrepeatable, that can be directly attributed to drunkenness,” Krauss said.

In an email to the News early Tuesday morning, De Santis declined to give specific reasons for canceling the dance but said it was a decision made by Krauss, Silliman College Dean Hugh Flick and SAAC. She said Silliman does not currently have plans to hold an event instead of Safety Dance next year.

Two other students on SAAC declined to comment.

Krauss warned students that she was considering canceling Safety Dance in an email sent to each residential college last Friday.

“The worry about untoward outcomes associated with [binge drinking] quite honestly keeps us up at night until the dance is over,” she said. “And, each year, in the immediate aftermath, we give serious consideration to discontinuing it in future years.”

Two of the eight hospitalized students were transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital directly from the dance — which was attended by roughly 2300 students — while another was hospitalized after falling on Beinecke Plaza. Krauss said ambulances picked up the other five students from different locations around campus, attributing these cases to excessive pre-gaming.

This year, organizers took additional measures to enhance safety at the dance.

Krauss and Flick said in Friday’s email that they increased the security presence at the dance by hiring an outside firm, Contemporary Services, to provide personnel and manage the entrance of Commons. But Krauss said the heightened security ultimately had no effect on the overall level of safety.

“Unfortunately, none of the measures we put in place helped to reduce the number of transports or make a dent in the general level of intoxication of those who attended the dance,” she said.

Krauss added that organizers had problems with crowd control, and though the doors were supposed to close at midnight, she decided to close them at 11:50 p.m. because the crowd “was pushing and shoving up against the doors.” While many ticket holders were left outside the door temporarily, organizers re-opened the doors roughly 30 minutes later, she said.

Despite the several incidents, Yale Police Department Assistant Chief Michael Patten said he thought the dance went well overall, and no serious accidents took place. De Santis said she found the dance to be “more tame” than in years past.Students interviewed who attended the dance expressed excitement about the festivities and said they enjoyed getting dressed up ’80s themed clothing.

Henry Wolf ’16 said Safety Dance can be fun even without drinking “absurd amounts of alcohol.”

De Santis and Fornero ’15 said they have received mostly positive feedback from students who attended.

“Up until the time the music stopped people were dancing,” Fornero said.

The next residential college dance is Calhoun College’s Trolley Night on Oct. 5.

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