Despite beautiful fall weather and a new term, one thing has remained conspicuously missing: Sayles dances. After several weeks of confusion — and a notably-absent Homecoming dance — the Student Activities Office has finally revealed the highly-anticipated verdict on the fate of Sayles dances.
The good news is that they’re still happening and should be just as much fun as they were. However, beginning this term, there will be several key changes designed to make Sayles dances a safer environment for Carleton students.
“We know these are an important part of Carleton tradition,” said Nadine Sunderland, assistant director of Student Activities, “and we’re doing everything we can to make them safer. Our hope is that students can still have a good time, while behaving more respectfully and responsibly.”
The review procedure began last spring term, when two different organizations, the Alcohol Review Team and the Committee on Student Life, both approached the Student Activities Programming Board with concerns about the safety of the environment surrounding Sayles dances.
“In a survey of (perceived) ‘high-risk’ events, Sayles dances ranked first,” Sunderland said. “As the office that plans them, we had to figure out a way to (change) that.”
Sunderland cited the high number of incidents that occur during, and after, Sayles dances. According to Sunderland, students reported that Sayles dances created a very “different, hyped-up” atmosphere, resulting in a higher amount of risky activity.
On average, incidents involving drinking and sexual assault are more numerous following Sayles dances. As a result, when the committees approached the Student Activities
Office, the board met with the Deans and began a revision process to make dances safer.
A large part of this includes the frequency of Sayles dances. Beginning this fall, every term will have one dance held in Sayles, and one in an outside venue, such as the Grand. In addition, there will be one or two Cave dances, as well as social dance events and Ebony.
Sayles dances will also now have more security precautions. Because many reported incidents last year involved non-Carleton students, all entrances will now be guarded by Security, and students will have to show their OneCard to gain access to Sayles on the night of a dance.
“We won’t check how old you are,” Sunderland said. “We just want to make sure that you’re a Carleton student.”
If a student is significantly inebriated, to the point that he or she endangers himself or others, then he or she may be denied entrance; for the most part, though, students merely have to show their OneCard to gain access.
“We got a strong sense that this is what students wanted,” said Sunderland, stressing the importance of student involvement in the process. On Tuesday, the Student Activities Programming Board met with representatives from the Carleton Senate Association, the directors of Ebony and many of the RAs on campus to discuss the issue.
She also pointed out that the Student Activities Office has received positive feedback from the new security procedures at Cave dances.
“There are never really any problems with the security guards,” saod Sonali Gupta ‘12, one of the SAO Music and Dance Program Assistants. “They like us, and we like them.”
Gupta and Sunderland also stressed that the Student Activities Office is not trying to make Sayles dances any less fun — just safer.
The first Sayles dance of this term will be held on Oct. 22 from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. In addition, there will be a Cave dance on Oct. 29 and a “Latin Heat” night on Nov. 4 in the Great Hall. Perhaps most anticipated, however, is the themed Masquerade Ball, which will be held on Nov. 14 at the Northfield Ballroom.
“Students are really excited for the Masquerade ball,” said Sunderland.
Added Gupta, “We really want to give students the chances to make good choices (while still) having fun.”