New guidelines for orgs hosting Kagin dances

Under new regulations that will go into effect next semester, student organizations will assume a much greater level of responsibility over on-campus dances they sponsor. A few members of each organization will now be required to serve as hosts for the event, work with security and Building Managers, and maintain order at dances.

Last spring, a group of students and staff members began brainstorming initial ideas for a dance policy that student organizations would have to abide by. The group saw a need to spread responsibility for safety and security at Kagin dances to the sponsoring organization, instead of just the Building Managers and security guards that were already present.

The policy, which is in effect now but will not be enforced until next semester, outlines procedures that groups must take in order to host a dance on campus, whether in Kagin or another venue.

If a group is sponsoring a dance, members must designate a certain number of hosts for the event. Hosts are required to be sober for the entire dance, welcome and monitor guests, keep people off the stage, report any incidents or emergencies to security and assist with venue cleanup.

The hosts will have the right to instruct security at any time, at their own discretion, if they feel the event is uncontrollable. They will have to monitor the dance, its entrances and exits, and periodically check the bathrooms to ensure the well-being of guests.

In addition, the designated hosts will be required to meet 30 minutes before the event with Building Managers and security staff for an Event Team Meeting. There, they will discuss procedures for crowd control and behavior, as well as responsibilities and expectations for the event.

If the group does not provide all the hosts required, the dance may be cancelled.
Director of Campus Center & Conferences Cindy Haarstad, who helped develop the policy, said the new rules are meant to achieve two goals: increasing the levels of safety and security at dances, and ensuring the protection of Kagin’s audio-visual equipment.

“It’s done in the spirit of keeping people safe, having a fun event, having the group members sponsoring the event be responsible for the event,” Haarstad said.

The policy was developed throughout last year by Haarstad; Associate Director of Campus Programs Robin Hart Ruthenbeck; Jeff Garcia ’14, last year’s Student Organization Committee (SOC) Chair; and other members of the SOC.

Garcia developed many of the initial ideas that went into the final form of the proposal. Overall, Garcia saw the policy as a way to ensure greater levels of supervision and accountability and to create a safer environment at Kagin dances.

“It’s not quite being the party police; you’re not breaking up dancing,” Garcia said. “But you’re watching to see if anything suspicious happens, if anyone’s not having a good time.”

Dancing on stage: A regular problem

The plank of the guidelines prohibiting dancing onstage at Kagin was something that had been followed in advance, said Rachel Perry ’15, the Hill Ballroom Lead for Building Managers, but it had never been in writing until now.

Students dancing onstage has been a common occurrence at Kagin dances, which dance sponsors and those working the dances have been wishing to reduce.

According to Perry, the stage is designed to disassemble, so its weight limit is much lower than a fixed stage and therefore it is not that stable. If large crowds were to dance on the stage, they would run the risk of damaging the stage and seriously harming the new DJ equipment, which, according to Building Manager co-supervisor Andy Williams, is only a few years old and designed to last a long time.

Building Managers and other staff members became especially concerned about students dancing on stage after it collapsed a few years ago from students dancing on it.

“We’ve been trying to handle that through working with the org that’s sponsoring the dance, talking to them, and explaining our expectations for the stage area,” Williams said. “If that’s not being heeded, we’ll step in and help with that, from a safety perspective as well as maintaining our equipment.”

Traditionally, Building Managers assist with setup at Kagin and then take a more indirect role, supervising and monitoring the venue. If any major issues arise, they will contact security.

“We’re more there for security purposes; one or two building managers stick around and sometimes take a quick walk around to make sure no one’s doing anything they shouldn’t be,” said Perry.

With this new policy, the responsibility to keep students off the stage will fall to the student organization hosts, but Building Managers still reserve the right and have the power to remove students from the stage.

According to Nate Macijeski ’14, a DJ Club co-chair, when the org hosts dances its members will typically barricade the stage with tables to discourage students from climbing up on the stage and dancing. They also often bring extra people to support the DJs and ensure that they don’t have to focus on crowd control the entire night.

“There are a number of reasons why we have extra people there—I think the biggest one is probably just for people’s safety…there’s also [potential] damages to the equipment, either damage to DJ Club’s equipment or to the speakers in Kagin that everyone uses,” Macijeski said.

Most of the rules will go into effect next semester, according to current SOC Chair Maddie Arbisi ’14. One of the regulations, added after the rules were brought to MCSG and the SOC this year, required lights to turn on 15 minutes prior to the end of an event. That rule is currently being enforced, but the remainder will not be implemented until next year, after word has spread to organizations about the guidelines.

A publicity campaign is planned to let organizations know about the new guidelines. The guidelines will soon be placed on Event Detail Forms, and will be listed in next year’s organization handbook.

Lena Pransky ’16, another co-chair of DJ Club, said that while implementation of the policy will be difficult at first, it will ultimately be beneficial.

“I know that they put the policy into effect because they’re trying to make Kagins a safer space,” Pransky said. “Logistically, it could be hard, but I think it’s worth it.”