This past Saturday, late on the night of January the 27th, Sarah Lawrence students gathered at the Blue Room for a promising night of music. The show was set to headline Blondes–a trio known for their “blissed out, spaced out, warm, ecstatic, swirly dance music”–who were invited to campus by Curtis Pawley, class of 2013. Pawley has organized many similar music events previously that have been successful in gathering fans and new listeners alike. In the past two years he has brought the likes of Ducktails, Marcel du Swamp, and the infamous DJ Dog Dick to our shores.
The show last Saturday night was just as successful as those that came before, if not more so. As 12:30 am rolled around, a diverse group of students was gathered around Octo Octa, one of the final openers before Blondes. Every face was bathed in the blue light. The dance fever was spreading fast. One might compare it to a virus of sorts, an Ebola of unity and shared appreciation for the “sick bass.” The drunk and sober alike were swiftly shedding their inhibitions, washing the atmosphere of all regrets. It was going well.
And just then, as these islands of SLC students had begun to form archipelagos of head bobbing, the lights came up and the music cut out. Cold water thrown on the flame.
Immediately, the buzz began. Some headed straight for the coat piles dotting the floor while others gathered around to find out what had just happened. Pawley went straight to the source: the two graduate students who were watching the door for this particular event. As tensions built and even more curious students milled around asking “What the hell?”, two security guards entered the Blue Room and demanded that every student leave. “If you aren’t cleaning up, get out. Now.”
As students bled out of the Blue Room and dispersed to their respective gatherings, the story of the night was patched together. According to various accounts, the graduate students overlooking the event had found an underage student in possession of alcohol. When this student resisted the confiscation of the item, the supervisors made the executive decision to shut down the event and call security to break up the crowd.
Watching disappointed students awkwardly mill about outside of the Blue Room as they quietly made plans for the next location of the evening, one could not help but recognize a trend that has pervaded our school this year: heightened security.
Although many have argued that the increasingly delinquent student body has brought this upon itself, there is no ignoring the omnipresence of the Sarah Lawrence security guards at weekend get-togethers. This is not to argue that campus security is not important. Many a disaster has been avoided thanks to their intervention. However, it is a question of where and when SLC security decides to implement its power.
College is inhabited by young adults, and young adults tend towards curiosity. This leads to risk and risk eventually creates problems. No college campus is completely rid of what some might call “illicit activity.” No amount of security will be able to eradicate undesirable behavior. Therefore, it is a change in management that is called for, not a mission of prohibition.
The Blondes show is just one example of how SLC security could be implemented differently. Why was the student not blamed individually and kicked out without disrupting the show? Why wasn’t a warning given? Why wasn’t the event simply moved to another supervised location?
The questions have been circulating for some time now, but the conversation is just beginning. More students need to speak up and share their thoughts on how our security system could function better. We may not live in a utopia, but a better balance between fun and safety must exist. Until then, we’ll just have to keep the volume down.