Organized by students, but not officially condoned by the university, the “quad party” has served as one of Spring Weekend’s unofficial activities, and student favorites, for years.
The gathering typically takes place on the east side of campus and features live and DJ’d music, games and, most notably, drinking–until this year.
At last Thursday’s Student Government Association (SGA) meeting, both Nicole Gonzalez, interim vice president for student affairs, and Robert DeFazio, executive director of Residential Living and Conduct, announced that the university intends to institute measures to “break up” the party.
“The goal is to make sure things are getting broken up very quickly, very early,” Gonzalez said, explaining that security will be present to strategically ensure a mass congregation of students doesn’t occur. “In the past, it’s been a monitored situation because it just kind of explodes and erupts.”
Gonzalez said that, at face value, this annual celebration is dangerous for student wellbeing and detrimental to the physical structure of campus.
“It’s a matter of perception of what’s happening and what’s actually happening,” she said. “We’ve had fires that have gotten started throughout the night. We’ve had assaults. We’ve had significant issues with alcohol overdosing, fireworks, damage to the buildings, the lawn.”
Gonzalez added, aside from the danger of mass congregation (whether by under or of-age participants) and binge drinking, the quad party also creates a university resource issue regarding safety and security.
“We have security, but they’re here for the entire campus,” she said. “We don’t have the resources, and we’re not dedicating resources to watching people drink.”
DeFazio added that the Campus Activities Board’s (CAB) official programming efforts have been wasted on this unofficial quad party event.
“One of the things that has happened over the last few years is all the work and effort and money that’s been spent on the outdoor courts has been wasted because students are no longer taking part in the programming that’s out there,” DeFazio said. “They leave early in the afternoon and then going out to the east side of campus. We’re looking for activities that students will want to stick around for.”
Caroline Power, a senior strategic communication and digital media major, said she feels the university’s choice to stop the quad party is problematic.
“I believe that taking away the quad party just adds to the off-campus party scene and I believe that is the opposite of what we want to happen,” Power said. “The quad party has always been fun and faculty has since joined in on providing food for the students and really making it seem like a safe environment and community.”
Power added that she feels the students’ voices weren’t heard in this decision.
“The students were not given a vote or a voice before this decision had been made, so we had been blindsided without even letting us be heard,” she said.
Haylei John, a senior Spanish and international studies double major and the SGA president, confirmed that the student government was never formally consulted in the decision.
“The decision regarding the quad party was not made by SGA or by CAB,” John said. “This decision was relayed to the SGA in our last meeting, where it was met with a number of questions and concerns from members. This issue will continue to be addressed at our next SGA meeting on Feb. 15, which concerned students are encouraged to attend.”
In the meantime, Robbie Chulick, assistant director of the Center for Activities, Recreation and Leadership, has gathered a student committee to provide insights on safer, more responsible activities to take place Saturday night – at the quad party’s typical time. Twelve students attended the first meeting, but DeFazio said anyone is welcome to show up and share their recommendations. The next Spring Weekend committee meeting will take place on Thursday, March 22 at 11:30 a.m. in RC219.
Presently, DeFazio shared that a silent disco has been put forward as an option for Saturday night programming, although that hasn’t been confirmed yet.
For the first time, the Magnano Centre (Hickey Dining Hall) will open at 6 p.m. after the Richter Center food tent ends its service.
Gonzalez and DeFazio added that this isn’t the first change Spring Weekend programming has seen, and it likely won’t be the last. Within the past decade, the weekend has added daytime programming on the Richter Center’s basketball courts, and changed from a softball to kickball tournament.
“We know this first year or so is going to be a difficult transition, but so was the transition from softball to kickball,” Gonzalez said. “We’ve gone through difficult transitions. We know it’s going to be a tough corner to turn for the quad party, but we think it’s something that has to be done.”
Concerned students are encouraged to attend the next SGA meeting.
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