Behavior at Winter Ball puts future of event in jeopardy

By Amber Bunnell

Last weekend’s Winter Ball was a site for unprecedented student behavior, according to organizers and attendees. Suresh Mudragada, Assistant Director for Campus Programs, said that though most students acted appropriately, he was also disappointed in this year’s overall student behavior. “I was surprised at the number of students who came to the event very intoxicated and the way many students treated Macalester staff volunteers as well as staff from the venue,” said Mudragada. Emily Geris ’14 agreed. “I thought that Program Board did a wonderful job planning and coordinating the event this year. Unfortunately, there were some incredibly drunk students who significantly detracted from the night’s merriment,” said Geris, who witnessed students urinating and vomiting in the hallways, as well as slapping, shoving, and falling on the dance floor. “I feel this is a huge disrespect to the International Market Square and their custodial staff.” According to Mudragada, several students had to be removed from the event and returned to campus, and others had to be transported by ambulance to the hospital for alcohol-related reasons. Mac students also inflicted property damage to the IMS venue. “There were incidences of vandalism that ranged from plants being uprooted to drywall being cracked,” said Mudragada. Olivia Posner, student organizer for the Program Board’s Traditions Committee, said that final calculations on costs for property damages are not yet complete but will be expensive. As of press time, numbers read that replacing the plants will cost $1,100 and cleanup of the bodily fluids on the floors will cost $350. While some of this year’s logistics were developed to address Winter Ball challenges of previous years, 2011 presented unanticipated behavioral problems. “The feedback I’ve received from both staff and students is that there was much more misbehavior from students attending this year’s event,” said Mudragada. This view may have been unique to staff members, as Posner said that she didn’t notice any disruptive behavior until after the damage was done. “I was not aware so much property damage was being incurred at the time,” Posner wrote in an email. “What I did see were students having fun. The staff perspective, however, is very different … They were harassed, and students were just blatantly rude. I was disappointed when I realized, towards the end of the event, that so many people were acting poorly.” Geris was also worried about Macalester’s reputation and the possibility of cancelling future Winter Balls. “After this night, I worry that Macalester’s relationship with the Twin Cities community took a serious blow,” said Geris. “I just hope this isn’t a case where a few people ruin it for the entire group.” Posner alluded to the idea of discontinuing Winter Ball in the future, or at least limiting capacity. “It is possible Winter Ball won’t happen,” Posner said. “It is also possible that Winter Ball could happen again, but be modified greatly by limiting tickets or by holding it on campus. What I do think is, not everyone deserves to attend Winter Ball 2012, and students need to think long and hard about their actions. It is necessary to build a dialogue about what is wrong with the current state of things.”