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Program Board brings changes to Winter Ball

Winter Ball 2014 is getting a makeover which includes an earlier start time, required transportation to the event, and the implementation of a ‘host’ program. These changes are being implemented in hopes that Winter Ball will become a safer and more entertaining atmosphere for all students, providing a transformation from the negative image of previous Winter Balls.

This year Winter Ball will begin at 7 p.m., rather than 9 p.m. like in years past, and will end at 11 p.m.

“There was really no reason that it was 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. in the first place, and the change of 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. just kind of happened,” said Megan Renslow ’15, Program Board’s (PB) Co-Coordinator for Winter Ball. “[Because of the earlier start time] we’re hoping that more staff and faculty will be able to go then.”

In an email to the student body, Natalie Kronebusch ’17, the other PB co-coordinator, and Renslow mentioned the time change was also to “make the event safer and more enjoyable for the Mac community.”

Another change is the requirement of Macalester-provided bus transportation to the venue. Students will now be assigned a specific bus time when they purchase their ticket and will not gain entry if they arrive via alternative transportation. The hope is that this process will make boarding the buses more streamlined, less chaotic and less busy near the very end of loading times.

“It is more efficient for everyone to take buses, and we have the specific times because last year, everybody came to leave during the last hour, and some people had to wait for over an hour in JWall,” Renslow said.

“It’s free transportation downtown, and it’s a nice, easy way for students to get there. We didn’t make the changes to ruin people’s lives,” Renslow said.

This year Program Board is also organizing a group of responsible students on campus to serve as “hosts” for Winter Ball. As a host, you would attend Winter Ball just like everyone else, but watch out for students who need help or are noticeably intoxicated. In the event that someone needs assistance, you would just be responsible for connecting them with staff, security and/or MacEMT.

As a Winter Ball host, your ticket is free. To act as a host you are required to attend a short orientation at 5 p.m., Friday, Nov. 21. Program Board will provide dinner and go over some protocol, including positive bystander intervention.

Those interested in being hosts should email [email protected] with their name by November 14. There are a limited number of hosting slots available.

Since 2009, Program Board has organized Winter Ball each fall semester for the benefit of the college community.

This event, although consistently popular, has experienced its fair share of controversy, and with property damage, excessive drinking, and generally unruly behavior as problems that arose at previous Winter Balls, there were concerns about finding a location that would host the event.

This worry became a serious concern after the college was not invited back to the Crowne Plaza, the location of last year’s ball.

Despite these problems, the Marriott City Center in downtown Minneapolis agreed to have Macalester back, after successfully hosting the event two years ago.

“This is one of the biggest and nicest [venues] we’ve been in. It’s really aesthetically cool,” Kronebusch said. “The venue is where where Winter Ball was two years ago, and they were happy to have us back,” Kronebusch confirmed.

Because the venue is spacious there is no limit of tickets on sale, student tickets are $5 and students can purchase tickets guest tickets for $10.

“Everyone who wants a ticket can get one, as this year we made sure there was enough space in the venue for everyone to go,” Kronebusch said.

This year, Program Board is also expanding the types of entertainment offered to broaden the event’s appeal to more students.

“When we were there two years ago, we only filled a fourth of the huge ballroom, so we decided to split it in half with divider walls, and have half be the dance, and the other half be a casino night,” Megan Renslow ’15, the other Traditions co-chair, said.

“We hope to draw an even larger attendance than in years past by having these Vegas-night style games where you can win a variety of awesome prizes. There used to be an alternative Winter Ball in the Loch, and we wanted to incorporate activities like the ones there into Winter Ball,” Kronebusch said.

The food area, the 21-plus area, and plentiful hors d’oeuvres will all be back this year.

“The food will be catered by the hotel and will be awesome,” said Renslow.

The music provided for the dance floor will also remain the same as it has in past years.

Kronebusch said, “There will not be a Scottish band, contrary to a post I saw on Mac Confessions–there will be a DJ as usual.”

The theme this year — Winter Ball 2014: A New Tradition — does hearken back to Macalester’s origins.

“It’s a Mac Scottish theme: we thought it would be nice to bring the event back to its roots. It is a celebration of what this campus is, and it’s one of the few times when the Macalester community can all get together off campus,” Kronebusch said.

Overall, these changes are meant to creative a positive energy surrounding Winter Ball, and PB encourages students to speak positively about the event, especially to first-years so they don’t get a distorted or tainted idea of what the Winter Ball atmosphere is supposed to be.

“We made the changes to make the event better, and we think it will be fun for everybody. I think everyone is really excited and supports the changes we’ve made,” Kronebusch said. “There will be a negligible effect on fun levels; it’s the same great event it has always been.”

This year’s Winter Ball will be held Saturday, Nov. 22.

November 7, 2014

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