Despite more than doubling in size from last year, Branford College’s annual Crushes and Chaperones dance on Saturday had no alcohol-related incidents.
Crushes and Chaperones assumed the same model as Silliman College’s Safety Dance when it relocated from the Branford dining hall to Commons for the first time this year, after Branford was forced to shut its doors early when the dining hall reached capacity last spring. Though the crowds at Crushes have grown significantly — this year’s dance attracted more than 1,000 students, Branford Master Elizabeth Bradley said in an email Sunday — the Yale Police Department reported that the Branford event saw none of the alcohol-related incidents that have historically marked Safety Dance.
“With Crushes, the sole focus of the night is the dance itself — people aren’t sitting around drinking,” said Rachel Ruskin ’12, a Branford student who helped plan the event.
Ruskin said she thinks Safety Dance facilitates a culture of heavy drinking because both administrators and students assume the event will involve excessive alcohol use. Administrators’ efforts to limit alcohol consumption at the dance itself are ineffective because they encourage students to drink more heavily beforehand and intensify alcohol consumption over a short period of time, she said.
This fall’s Safety Dance saw five alcohol-related hospitalizations, and another eight students were sent to Yale Health for alcohol-related issues. Though attendance at Crushes has grown dramatically from last year’s 400 students, the event has not begun to attract the same numbers as Safety Dance, which drew 2,400 students to Commons this fall, Silliman Master Judith Krauss told the News in October.
Bradley said she thinks the absence of alcohol-related hospitalizations at Crushes might have been related to the timing of the event. Because Crushes and Chaperones occurs in the spring, she said, students, particularly freshmen, have had more time to learn their drinking limits than they did before Safety Dance, which is held in the fall.
Crushes did attract some alcohol-related problems. Bradley said some students arrived at the dance “falling down drunk,” but added that dance organizers and Yale police declined those students entry.
Yale Police Department Chief Ronnell Higgins and assistant chiefs Steven Woznyk and Michael Patten did not return requests for comment made Sunday and Monday about the Branford dance.
Karen Lazcano ’14, who attended Crushes this weekend and Safety Dance in the fall, said she thought fewer students seemed severely intoxicated at Branford’s event. She added that students tend to associate hard drinking with Safety Dance more than they do with other residential college dances.
“I guess Safety Dance just has the tradition and hype to it where everyone gets wasted,” she said.
Jonathan Villanueva ’14 said he thinks the “hype” of Safety Dance leads to its relatively high number of alcohol-related incidents. But Villanueva said Crushes did not have that same hype because the dance has not yet acquired a reputation for excessive drinking.
Villanueva added that students likely did not feel as much pressure to drink heavily before Crushes because many other campus events took place at the same time, allowing students to attend multiple parties over the course of the night. By contrast, few other campus events take place the night of Safety Dance, he said.
The Crushes and Chaperones dance began in 2007.