Panic at the ballroom

By Marc Larocque

After a rash of recent incidents at on-campus dance parties, the administration revised the rules regarding admittance.

Now, all non-Northeastern students must be accompanied by a Northeastern student to attend. Before this new policy, implemented the second week of February, any student with a New England college ID could attend these dance parties without a host.

“The invitations to dance parties were extended before to increase attendance to these events,” said Marina Iannalfo, dean of campus life. “We’ve noticed quite clearly that attendance and participation is no longer a problem.”

Many of the incidents of violence and vandalism at recent parties were a result of people being refused admittance because of capacity issues, according to Division of Public Safety reports.

However, Northeastern students will be allowed to sign in two guests instead of the one they were previously allowed.

The original policy potentially excluded Northeastern students after capacity for the events were reached, Iannalfo said. The new policy pertains only to dance parties; the rules for afterHOURS remain unaffected.

“Lately, we have been having some incidents with students from other schools at our dance parties,” said Gale Olyha, associate dean and director of student center activities. “It is non-Northeastern students that are causing these problems. Northeastern students are more well-behaved.”

There are only three more dance parties scheduled for the school year, Olyha said, the next on March 24. The Latin American Student Organization’s Feb. 3 party was the last under the former policy. Several fights broke out on the party’s dance floor around midnight at the John D. O’Bryant African-American Institute and everyone was asked to leave early.

Jim Ferrier, assistant director of public safety, said no single incident spurred the policy change. There were multiple disturbances at a series of parties, he said.

The Black Engineering Student Society hosted a party Jan. 19 in the Curry Student Center (CSC) Ballroom that reached full capacity, leaving many people wanting to get in. Northeastern Police Department (NUPD) officers were called to assist in dispersing the students and an unidentified chemical mace was sprayed, according to NUPD reports.

Immediately afterward, members of the crowd broke into the CSC through Ell Hall by taking out the pins and removing the doors on the first floor. Police tried to catch them, but they ran away, according to Division of Public Safety reports.

“We took a look at the damage and inappropriate behavior with cameras. It was mostly because of the crowd being turned away from the venue when it reached a certain capacity,” Iannalfo said. “We have seen these crowds get unruly and it is unsafe for Northeastern students.”

A week later, a Caribbean Student Organization (CSO) dance party held in the Cabral Center of the African-American Institute sold out, prompting organizers to inform NUPD officers at the door. When the officers told people outside that no one else would be admitted, a member of the group became upset and kicked the door.

He was a Northeastern student and was reported to the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution (OSCCR), said CSO President Kitanya Kelly.

Kelly said she doesn’t see a reason for excluding non-Northeastern students.

“All this new policy is doing is deterring our group from using its primary resource for fund-raising,” she said. “At these parties, we have been able to draw many students from around town that are just coming to have some wholesome fun. I think it’s nice that we were able to have many students from outside schools wanting to come and enjoy a party without alcohol or drugs available.”

Students from New England colleges have been attending these intercollegiate dance parties in increased numbers because of Boston’s recent change in club policy, said Juel Swanston, a junior legal studies major. In January, City Hall mandated many Boston clubs become 21 and over while officials worked out underage drinking violations with club owners.

“There is nothing fun for students under 21 to do now,” Swanston said. “Students just want to be able to mingle with students from other colleges. Now, we can’t do this here.”

Sophomore biology major Jade McPhearson said she sees some sense in the new policy, however, it will hurt funds.

“It will make these dance parties safer by keeping track of outsiders,” McPherson said. “But now that it is not an open invitation, the dance parties will draw less money.”

Iannalfo said Northeastern administration will be watching to see how successful the rest of the dance parties are this semester.

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