Tonight is Halloween, the night when we can make our true identities, our pride, and all sense of decorum disappear. But restraint won’t be all that’s missing tonight. Citing uncontrollable students and drunkenness that resulted in damaged property, Pierson announced this fall that it would no longer sponsor Inferno, its wildly popular and formerly annual night of Halloween debauchery. Timothy Dwight’s famed Exotic Erotic — where “the less you wear, the less you pay” — suffered the same fate only a year earlier.
Residential colleges are intended to be the center of social life and we lament the loss of these infamous parties and traditions. We’re encouraged that there have been discussions and recognition on campus for the need to find suitable replacements for these events, but remain unconvinced by the efforts to date.
Take, for example, Pierson’s Draconian “replacement” for Inferno. To set the stage: imagine a tent set up in the courtyard of Swing Space. Imagine: no non-Piersonites beyond the single guest each student in the college may invite (and must declare ahead of time). Imagine: no fun. So where should a student look to unwind after a grueling week?
YCC says we should look in its direction — namely at its newly formed Yale Student Activities Committee, which will attempt to fill the void left by the cancellation of Inferno and Exotic Erotic. Its first such attempt, YSAC announced this week, will be a night of dancing and games in Commons during Yale-Harvard weekend. We appreciate YSAC’s efforts, but question the timing of such an event; there’s already so much else going on that weekend, and dragging our friends from Boston into our dining hall to play games doesn’t rank high on our list. (Of course, given the amount of fun it looked like said Cambridge friends were having when we visited them for The Game last year, perhaps they do need people to officially plan their fun.)
We know YSAC is in formative stages and we don’t mean to malign its efforts. And we admit we’re not being fair. But why do so many of us, without having ever attended a YSAC event, automatically assume it can’t possibly be fun? Perhaps it’s because the frame reminds us too much of a high school event, YSAC too much of the prom committee. Or perhaps it’s because campus-wide events, no matter how well-planned, can never replace the unique roles parties like Inferno and Exotic Erotic filled. Those parties were full of tradition and personality, and many such residential college events are inseparable from the very identity of the hosting college. We worry about the loss of such long-standing traditions and wonder how behemoth campus-wide events can possibly substitute.
And yet, what else is there? We can’t seem to control ourselves at the parties that are fun, and yet we bristle at anything that seems too rigid. Perhaps just as it was our fault that these parties disappeared, it’s also our responsibility to make sure new events succeed. Maybe it’s an attitude adjustment that we need; if we write off these new events, they don’t stand a chance.
We hope YSAC continues its efforts, consulting with students to plan future events. But in the end, it’s up to us, and, tonight at least, we’ll have to make our own fun. That can be a scary prospect. But it is Halloween, after all — perhaps a little fear is what we need.