On Saturday, April 5, the Class of 2014, in collaboration with Vassar College Entertainment (ViCE), hosted the event “50 Nights at The Chance,” the annual event meant to commemorate the date that marks 50 nights until Commencement. The event was held at The Chance Theater in Poughkeepsie. Buses shuttled students to and from campus and The Chance and Vassar security was enlisted to help with the transportation. The show featured three musical performers: JSTR, Great Dane, and DJ Pacmahn, Kiran Chapman ’15.
Though the event usually results in small damages and problems because of the number of people attending the event, this year’s 50 Nights event ended with multiple complaints of violence directed towards both students and Chance security officers and racked up several large damages to the venue and the buses.
President of the Senior Class Connor Martini ’14 explained some of the problems of the event. As he remembered, “Many, many things got out of hand. I’ve never seen such out-of-control entitled behavior from Vassar students before. Students were trying to get on stage, which was for event staff only, and in doing so created such a gridlock in the staircase that people were starting to get seriously pushed and shoved by their peers.”
He continued, “By the end of the event, two of the buses were out of service because students had gotten sick on them, and another was put out of service because students broke the bus doors mobbing the bus. A fourth bus was also damaged because students opened the seat coverings and ripped out the stuffing. This was the reason it took so long to get people out of The Chance.”
Martini went on, describing one of the problems with the number of students who were at The Chance on Saturday. Due to the volume of students waiting for the bus back to campus, they flooded Main Street and blocked traffic. “I was thoroughly embarrassed by our behavior,” wrote Martini in an emailed statement.
Kathryn Marshall ’16 attended the event and echoed some of the concerns brought up by Martini. According to Marshall, transportation was a key failure of the night. “The buses were ridiculous. People were so rowdy that four out of the five buses were decommissioned. That was one of the worst parts of the night,” she said.
Becca Jannou ‘16 had similar things to say, relating to the transportation and busing issues. “Students were at their worst when trying to board buses and when they were on the buses themselves. I’d guess it’s because no one wanted to wait for another round of buses to arrive, so they all shoved on as quickly and forcefully as possible as soon as transportation arrived.”
She continued, “I had to wait about 45 minutes for a bus, which was not too long but still longer than the half hour I’d been told it would take. Once the buses got there, the students mobbed them and it was a scary mess to be involved in.”
Many tried to present solutions to the problems presented by the event. One argument pushed for a senior-only event that would limit the number of students who could attend and address some of the problems that were a result of overcrowding.
Jannou agreed on how little space was afforded to those at the event. “The line to get it was very long so I had my doubts before even seeing the space, and so did others in line with me. Once I got into The Chance, it was clear there wouldn’t be much breathing space. The upper floor was less congested but to get there one had to fight their way through the mob to the stairs,” she said.
Jannou also agreed with those who pushed for limiting the number of students who could attend the event. As she explained, “I think it would be better as a senior-only event. I like the idea of parties off campus for the whole student body, but 50 Nights seems like it should be something special and celebratory for those the phrase means something for.”
Martini challenged the idea that the problems of the event were indicative of poor planning of the event. As Martini said, “There was not really anything we could have done. People were going to drink and get out of hand no matter what, but I was really hoping Vassar students would keep it together enough to not cause such ridiculous damage. Obviously, I was wrong, and in the future I think the event will be kept to just seniors. I think that we could have coordinated with Chance security a bit more to keep the entrance line moving swiftly, but I think in the future we’d recommend capping the event at a certain point.”
Marshall also spoke to the performances of the event. She had high hopes for electronic musicians who played at The Chance. “Vice worked really hard to book the talent. Alex Adler and Jason Ballon, who arranged the artists, did an awesome job, and I personally went to the event mainly for the music,” she said.
She went on, “I felt like it was disrespectful for students to treat the buses and the venue like crap, considering it was supposed to be an awesome night of music. JSTR and Great Dane are really respected and well-known electronic musicians and I was disappointed that I didn’t get to enjoy their performance.”
Martini reflected on the night as a whole, saying, “I haven’t heard much from students besides complaints about the bus rotation. I personally would like to complain about the students. Especially those who punched and scratched Chance staff, broke the bus door, and jumped on stage, only to injure themselves and others. I would challenge them to consider how their behavior is reflective of Vassar and their personal ability to conduct themselves appropriately once they leave our bubble.”