Structure of 50 Nights needs reconsidering

This past Saturday, the Class of 2014 and ViCE Special Events hosted 50 Nights at The Chance, the only off-campus event that is meant for the entire student body. Intended to celebrate the 50 nights before graduation, the event includes busing students to the concert space and nightclub in the city of Poughkeepsie.
Unfortunately, this year also showed an expressed escalation in the amount of violence, drunkenness and vandalism by Vassar students. We at The Miscellany News believe that the degree of this disrespectful behavior calls into question several aspects of the event.
At 50 Nights last weekend, Vassar students proved that they cannot handle the responsibility of using a community space not affiliated with the College. Along with pushing in line in front of Main Building on Saturday night, a mob formed on Main Street and had to be broken up by the police, security at The Chance was assaulted, various fights broke out and the night ended with four damaged buses. The club was clearly over capacity, and many members of the Vassar community were excessively drunk or otherwise impaired.
As a result of the misbehavior at 50 Nights this year, we at The Miscellany News advocate for a stricter limitation to be set for future 50 Nights. We suggest that the event either be restricted to seniors and the friends they sign in, or that the event organizers institute a ticketing system to help control the flow of students to and from The Chance throughout the night.
It is important for the students of the College to understand that the lack of self-control by members of our community has historically led to the shut-down of all-campus events, notably HomoHop and Shiva Rave. The lack of respect for shared spaces on campus only points to larger issues on campus regarding self-restraint and disorderly conduct when it comes to all-campus events like 50 Nights.
It is also important to note that just because 50 Nights is located off campus at The Chance does not mean we can continue to disrespect the space and the people who work there.
While we as students have to collectively pay for damages incurred during Villard Room parties, the damages to the buses procured by the College for transportation must be paid for by the senior class, causing an unnecessary rise in cost to their Senior Week events as well.
Additionally, the nature of the event intrinsically promotes a culture of binge-drinking and irresponsible drug use. Because the event is off campus and does not allow alcohol to enter the building, students may feel the need to drink excessively beforehand whereas with on-campus events, students have the opportunity to return to their houses and rejoin the event. 50 Nights at The Chance also has a reputation for prompting increased drug usage, bringing the safety of the event into question.
We at The Miscellany News question whether an all-campus event at a location outside the College promotes an unsafe environment in terms of substance misuse, and therefore again recognize that the event may need to be restructured in the future.
The event is meant to be an all-campus celebration, with an emphasis being placed on seniors, but with the continued escalation of violence toward property and others, The Miscellany News questions why students need an event to occur off campus, if we deserve one at all.
The amount of work that goes into setting up 50 Nights and the amount of damage incurred by The Chance indicates a type of immaturity not normally associated with Vassar students; the event seems to encourage rowdy behavior that amplifies every year. Yet, unlike Halloweekend, students don’t seem to be concerned with 50 Nights being shut down in the future. Instead, we treat The Chance and its employees with such a level of disrespect that the best option almost seems to be the removal of the event altogether.
In order to maintain the integrity of the event as a celebration for seniors as well as to control the overcrowding, we suggest a 50 Nights ticketing system. This system would give priority to seniors, guaranteeing that those who want to attend may do so. Students would be able to sign up for particular bus times, which would help make the often overcrowded buses safer and create a more streamlined waiting queue.
Despite this year’s increase in the number of buses for the event, the volume of those waiting for a ride also increased, so many students pushed their way onto the crowded buses and put them over capacity. However, because certain departure times from Vassar are more popular, there would need to be some leniency with the times for which students sign up. Our hope is that there is a way to make the busing less hectic and more safe for both the students and the drivers.
Ultimately, we at The Miscellany News realize that a ticketing system may not be enough to fix the problems that 50 Nights at The Chance presents each year. In order to better prevent the damage costs, misbehavior and danger created by the event, it may be necessary to completely restructure it, which could mean closing it to seniors and their guests.
Whether minor or major, we feel it is imperative that changes be made to 50 Nights; Vassar has a history of shutting down events that get out of control, and this one may be next. We at The Miscellany News would not be surprised if within the next five years the event no longer exists. In fact, the time span may be even short than that.
Unless we are willing to work to improve 50 Nights as well as our behavior as attendees, next year’s event could be our last.

 

—The Staff Editorial represents the opinions of at least 2/3 of the Editorial Board.

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