Due to noise complaints, the annual Smiley 80s party was shut down at 11:45 p.m. on Mar. 6, more than an hour before it was scheduled to end.
According to Claremont Police Chief Paul Cooper, CPD first received a noise complaint from a Claremont resident at 10:15 p.m. The CPD responded to the call, and at 10:40 p.m. made contact with Ellie Ash, the assistant director of Smith Campus Center and student programs at Pomona College, who advises the Committee of Campus Life and Activities (CCLA).
The CPD issued Ash a “first response card,” which indicates there has been a noise disturbance. The CPD let Ash know that if they were forced to come back a second time, the party could be shut down, and the person responsible for the event could be fined between $100 and $1,000 if the complainant wished to file charges.
At this point, Ash went to the stage and had the music turned down. However, the CPD received another call at 11:23 p.m. from the same person. They made contact with Ash again and informed her that the resident who filed the complaint was willing to press charges. Although Ash could continue the party at her own risk, they said, she would be arrested if the resident followed through.
“It was me personally that was cited for a noise violation and disturbing the peace originally,” Ash said. “They don’t cite the College, they cite the party organizer. I decided I didn’t want to get arrested so we turned off the music and we turned the lights on.”
The party was shut down just before midnight, even though it was not scheduled to end until 1 a.m.
The CPD chose not to issue a “second response card” because Ash was cooperative, and no fines were issued to anyone who helped plan Smiley 80s.
The CPD responded to a similar noise complaint against Harvey Mudd’s Two300 party a little after midnight. Although the CPD issued a first response card to Harvey Mudd, there were no subsequent noise complaints, presumably because the party ended soon thereafter.
Despite rumors that the complainant might have been a Harvey Mudd student trying to shut down the competing party, Ash said the CPD made it clear that the complainant, with whom they had made personal contact, was a female Claremont resident who lived several blocks west of campus.
Members of CCLA were confused by the noise complaint. Leslie Appleton, CCLA annual events chair, said she felt the complaint must have actually been directed toward another event or combination of events, like an unregistered dormitory party or Two300, since the noise from Smiley 80s seemed negligible to her. At one point in the night, she was outside the event near the Smith Campus Center, and she said she could hardly hear the music from the gym.
Students who attended Smiley 80s were also surprised a noise complaint shut down the party, especially given its location.
“It wasn’t any louder than any other party, and it seems like the gym is farther from residential areas than most of the 5-C parties,” Aliyana Gewirtzman PO ’12 said. “I was surprised it got shut down for noise. It just seems like there are houses closer to the other campuses like Harvey Mudd.”
According to Kayleigh Kaneshiro, ASPC vice president for campus activities, CCLA cannot refund the five dollars students paid for tickets because that money already went toward funding Smiley 80s. Ash added that the party lasted almost three out of four hours, and it is not CCLA’s responsibility to compensate students who chose to come late.
Appleton said most people have been understanding about the predicament that forced CCLA to shut down the party, and only one person has asked for his or her money back thus far.
However, some students felt CCLA should have done more to prevent the party from getting shut down, especially after they received the first noise complaint.
“I understand the school doesn’t have any other way to pay for it except by charging us five dollars, but at the same time it’s not the students’ responsibility to turn down the volume,” said Carl Brehm PO ’11, who was at the event when it was shut down. “I feel like it’s the school’s responsibility to make sure parties don’t get shut down. If the school was informed and they didn’t do anything about it, we should get our money back.”
When the party was shut down, there were a few hundred students in the gym, and Appleton said she believes many more would have come.
Although the party did not sell out, CCLA sold about 1,300 tickets. Ticket sales were higher than in previous years because Rains can hold 1,500 people, whereas the party’s previous location—Edmunds Ballroom—can only hold 1,200. Kaneshiro said this was the major reason for the location change.
Appleton has received generally positive feedback about the change of location. She said CCLA was shooting for a “bad 80s prom theme,” which was well-received by students.
Ash said she did not think the location change led to the noise complaint. However, she noted that when the party was held in Edmunds, the doors opened into the inside steel form area. The western gymnasium doors, on the other hand, were open to the outside, possibly allowing more noise to escape. These doors remained open so that a power cable could run into the gym from the outside.
Ash said if CCLA chooses to hold the event in Rains next year, they will find a way to keep those doors closed.
Appleton said no decision has been made about where the event will be held next year, but that CCLA wants to prevent the party from being shut down in future years.“Obviously, were sorry for everyone who came and paid the money and didn’t get to enjoy it to the fullest,” Appleton said. “We hope everyone will try to come again next year.”