Students criticize Safety’s end

Students have expressed confusion and frustration in response to yesterday’s news that Silliman College’s annual Safety Dance has come to an end.

The decision to cancel the event, which has taken place 13 consecutive years, came after this year’s Safety Dance on Saturday, when eight students were transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital for alcohol-related reasons. After students received a warning from Silliman College Master Judith Krauss in a Friday email that she was considering ending future Safety Dances, dance organizers Hannah Fornero ’15 and Nicole de Santis ’15 told the News on Monday night that this year’s event was the college’s last. While the dance’s cancellation met significant resistance among students who claim it will not change alcohol culture at Yale, Krauss said she decided to cancel itbecause the risks associated with excessive alcohol use outweighed the event’s benefits.

“Canceling the dance in and of itself is clearly not the solution to the problems with the alcohol culture at Yale, but it will provide one less campus-wide excuse for binge drinking”, Krauss said in a Tuesday email to the News.

Krauss said she and Silliman College Dean Hugh Flick made the final call to end the dance, but added that she first discussed its health and safety concerns with the Silliman Activities and Administrative Committee, which was responsible for organizing the event. Though she acknowledged that students associate the dance with “Silliman pride,” Krauss said that “with each successive year there has been less to be proud of and more to be concerned about.”

She declined to comment further on her reasons for canceling the event.

While students interviewed said Krauss’ decision to discontinue the dance because of excessive intoxication was misguided because binge drinking will still occur elsewhere on campus.

Ericka Saracho ’14 said students will find reasons to drink even without a college-wide dance such as the Safety Dance.

“It’s not going to change the way people drink,” she said.

Shuaib Raza ’14 said the minimal alcohol safety education students receive upon arriving at Yale leaves them unprepared to deal with alcohol “in a responsible way.”

Two students said they are concerned that the dance’s cancellation will prevent other students from seeking needed medical attention in future alcohol-related incidents out of fear that administrators will cancel other events.

Silliman College currently has no plans to organize another campus-wide event, Krauss said, adding that SAAC will likely use allotted funds for a Silliman-only event. In an earlier interview, she said in the past few years costs from the Safety Dance have typically exceeded Silliman’s budget by $1,000 to $2,000.

Roughly 2300 students attended this year’s Safety Dance, held in Commons.


  • SM93

    The Safety Dance began in either the ’90-’91 or ’91-’92 school years, thanks to the eternal genius of Marthame Sanders, SM’92. Seldom has one man done such good for so many and for so long.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Marichal and Marthame, two male names I have not encountered until this year.

  • yetanotheryalemom

    If we as adults, supervisors of young people continue to put an end to dances and social events because of the very bad behavior of a few, there will be no place to go for those students who do know the meaning of appropriate behavior and personal responsibility. Binge drinking will not go away with the dance, it will just go into a different arena – dorm rooms, bars, apartments.

    I sympathize with administration’s feelings that they NEED to do something when untoward events occur at a college function. However canceling a dance won’t do that. Perhaps more education around personal responsibility is necessary but that will only take you so far. And consider this – perhaps you are doing your job already. Identifying students that need to be helped and getting that help for them is important. Hopefully those kids are required at a minimum to attend a course on responsible drinking and the very real dangers of not drinking responsibly. There might be kids in the shadows, not at dances and big events that present far more risk to themselves and the university.

    Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. While of course you would like a 100 percent risk free environment, it is unreasonable to expect that. What is college without college traditions and parties? Maybe colleges just become online academic centers if they can’t foster the larger human experience. Seek ways to improve those parties, perhaps sizing them so they are somewhat more manageable, providing more security, making more food and water available. Don’t just toss out a Yale tradition, an event that provides activities for perhaps many students who don’t get invited to a lot of smaller social events. Seek to improve, not to discard. We are the grow-ups. We need to figure out ways for college kids to explore the world, be social, learn to be responsible with less risk but not ZERO risk because that is impossible. And we need to get comfortable with the fact that they are young and we may not love the way they dance or dress or any number of other things, but this is their time, not ours. Let’s let them have it and try to make it as healthy an environment as possible.

  • sonofmory

    another Yale tradition down the drain…what’s next, shopping period? senior societies getting banned? are administrators not realizing that banning these events is not changing anything?

    • yalengineer

      The Wiffs taking a year off? Oh wait…

  • GeraldWWeaver2

    As long as there is a Prohibition on alcohol consumption by adults old enough to vote and to fight and die for our country, there will be the sort of pre-game and clandestine drinking that is really what is at issue here, other than the Safety Dance.