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Winter Ball calms down after 2011 damages

Compared to last year’s Winter Ball, which was fraught with students vomiting in the hallways and destroying potted plants, this year’s was remarkably calmer.

Approximately 1,200 tickets were issued for this year’s ball, which was held at the Marriott in downtown Minneapolis. According to Dean of Students Jim Hoppe, most students were well-behaved, and there were “many fewer” disciplinary incidents than last year.

“It was not without problems, some of which will require follow-up,” Hoppe said. “However, the vast majority of those in attendance seemed to have fun and represent the college well.”

“Most students had a good time,” said Liz Watson ’13, the Traditions Coordinator for Program Board who helped coordinate Winter Ball.

The environment at last year’s Winter Ball was much rowdier and far more destructive. Macalester was presented with a hefty fine to pay for damages to the venue and bus. This year, according to Assistant Director of Campus Programs Suresh Mudragada, no fines were incurred because the crowd did not cause any serious damage to the event space. The Marriott did not report any vandalism or damage that occurred during Winter Ball.

A new development this year was the transition of the Weyerhaeuser Boardroom into a holding room as students waited for the buses to arrive. Last year, the system of boarding onto buses was slow and disorganized, making it difficult for volunteers to control the crowd. This year, boarding proceeded smoothly. The danger of a $2,000 fine from the bus company if alcohol was brought onto the buses apparently prevented any students from doing so.

“The work to better organize the bus loading process was very helpful,” Hoppe said.

Macalester provided its own EMTs and security at the event, but Mudragada believes that aside from a few sprained ankles, there was not a need for them, as no students required medical care from excessive alcohol consumption.

“There were fewer extremely intoxicated students,” Mudragada said. Mudragada credits that to an effort among the student body not to repeat the mistakes of last year, which, if they had occurred again, would have jeopardized the future of Winter Ball.

The Health and Wellness Center launched a campaign, “Stop at Buzzed,” to discourage people from arriving overly intoxicated. RAs also discussed past Winter Ball problems with their floors.

“I thought it was pretty under control, at least compared to what I heard about last year,” said Hannah Wilson ’16.

But a statement from MCEMS disagreed with the allegedly small role intoxication played that night.

“MCEMS feels strongly that our presence at Winter Ball was necessary. We saw over 10 patients, some of whom were transported by ambulance for further evaluation and care” MCEMS representatives wrote in an email. “While it may have appeared that MCEMS had less of a presence at Winter Ball this year, it was thanks to the entire campus response team present at the venue (Security, Campus Programs, ResLife, and MCEMS) that we were able to more effectively and discreetly manage the medical emergencies that occurred.”

Tickets and venue

In the weeks leading up to Winter Ball, one main issue that arose was the difficulty of acquiring tickets. Program Board capped the number of tickets available at approximately 1,200, and all of them were sold. A fair number of students inquired about obtaining tickets after they were sold out, and Watson attempted to accommodate as many of them as possible by offering volunteer opportunities. A few days after the initial batch of tickets was sold out, Program Board released 50 additional tickets to the Information Desk.

“If we sold out of tickets very quickly, we might have considered raising the number of tickets available,” Watson said.

Watson was also satisfied with the Marriott, which hosted Winter Ball for the first time.

“It looked beautiful, and the food was delicious,” Watson said. “I was pleased. Working with them was an absolute pleasure — they were very accommodating.”

According to Watson, the Marriott was also very complimentary about the organization and planning that Macalester put into the event, a tribute to the level of planning that went into Winter Ball.

“Liz, the committee and Program Board did a great job presenting and planning the evening,” Hoppe said. “I’d say overall, the evening was successful.”

December 7, 2012

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