Winter Ball damages to cost Program Board over $2,000

By Amber Bunnell

December may feel in the distant past, but issues from Winter Ball continue to affect the Macalester community. Macalester recently received bills from the International Market Square and D’Amico Catering with final damage figures. According to Dean of Students Jim Hoppe, there were at least two incidents of broken walls, three incidents of student urinating on the floor, two toilets clogged and several plants uprooted. The combination of special biohazard cleaning, replacements and repairs comes to a grand total of $2,143.72. Money to pay these fines will come from the Program Board budget, which means there will be less money for other events this semester, such as Springfest. But Winter Ball will cost Macalester more than just money. According to Hoppe, the school works hard to establish positive relationships with the surrounding community, and it is painful when those relationships are damaged. Winter Ball was one such situation. “I can understand why they would be hesitant to work with us again,” Hoppe said. “The cost of trust is sometimes far more expensive than the dollar quotes.” The event also brings up serious questions about Macalester’s drinking culture. “We’ve seen through a variety of events this last semester an increased culture of students getting too intoxicated to control themselves,” Hoppe added. On the night of Winter Ball, six severely intoxicated students were transported to the hospital by ambulance, while another 10 were sent home in cabs with friends. Hoppe, who has been at Macalester for the last eight years, said that he witnessed similar “blips” in the past, but that student behavior corrected itself after those problematic events began to fall away. Those blips, however, are beginning to resurface at new events. A statement from the Health and Wellness Center also marked Winter Ball as a red flag. “Macalester students seem to view Winter Ball in a different way than other occasions where drinking is involved,” said Lisa Broek, Associate Director of the Health and Wellness Center. “There seems to be something about the off-campus venue, the late in semester timing and the nervous excitement of socializing that contributes to heavy drinking and extreme intoxication.” Hoppe, who was swiping IDs for the Winter Ball bar, said that the problems came not from students who were ordering drinks at the venue, but from those who arrived heavily intoxicated. “It is easy to blame security for not being harsh enough or joke about what happened,” Program Board member and organizer Olivia Posner wrote in an email. “But at some point in the game, we need to acknowledge our own behavior and consequences of our actions.” Hoppe agrees, saying that the burden of the situation rests on the entire school’s shoulders. “We had almost the whole campus there. There’s a different responsibility we have to take on when the whole campus is present at the same time,” he said. Hoppe and Posner both say they feel as though Winter Ball issues have captured Mac’s attention and that there has been an interesting campus response to significant issues. Hoppe reported that he received five or six direct responses from students and 25 from faculty and staff from the Macalester-wide Winter Ball email he sent out last semester. And according to Posner, the topic continues to be discussed at Program Board meetings as students wonder about a 2012 Winter Ball. “Will it happen?” Posner wrote. “We aren’t sure ourselves. When the Program Board is left to deal with extra charges to our budget, and staff volunteers and EMTs are expected to help students who were left alone in bathrooms, it’s hard to see the point in creating this kind of event for student enjoyment in the first place even if a small percentage were part of the problem.” On a more optimistic note, Hoppe thinks it is important to remember that most attendees had a great time and acted appropriately, and that those responsible for the damages should not be considered ‘bad people.’ “Don’t beat yourself up, but take a good look at our responsibilities to monitor our own drinking and behavior,” said Hoppe. “I’ll take the problems I have to deal with here on my worst day at Mac over the problems my friends have to deal with at other schools.” refresh –>