ASPC, Pomona to Discuss Future of Harwood Halloween

In a presentation about the expenses of Harwood Halloween at the Nov. 5 Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) Senate meeting, ASPC Vice President of Finance Eric Martinez PO ’14 laid the groundwork for a conversation next week when the Senate will begin discussing whether to radically alter or cancel altogether the costly annual event. 

Halloween takes up about 10 percent of Pomona College student fees for the entire year, according to Martinez’s presentation. Of the $117,500 the Pomona Events Committee was awarded for the 2013-2014 school year, approximately $37,000 went toward funding this year’s event. In
contrast, Scripps College’s Eurotrash party costs only $10,000. Claremont McKenna College’s Wedding Party, which
charges an admission fee, clocks in at around $18,000.

Martinez laid
out three recommendations. The first,
and most dramatic, was the outright cancellation of Harwood Halloween and the
reallocation of funds to other, smaller events throughout the year. The second recommendation was to downsize the
party—to make it a Pomona-only event, for example, or to charge an entrance
fee to defray costs. The third
recommendation was to change the style of Harwood Halloween, such as a carnival, which would be less costly. 

ASPC Vice President for Campus Activities Giselle Fierro PO ’14 said that while she did not think that Harwood Halloween should be canceled, she would probably support a
transformation of the event.  

“Anything that
changes up the culture of Harwood, and that lowers the cost of Harwood, I’m
totally for that—but not completely defunding Harwood,” she said. “I think we still need to have Harwood because
it’s a Pomona tradition, but that can look differently in the future.”  

The move to
alter Harwood Halloween may seem surprising in the wake of what Associate Dean of
Students Chris Waugh, in the Senate meeting, called “by far the best” Harwood
Halloween he has attended in three years at Pomona. 

There were three alcohol-related transports from the
party. Fierro estimated that Harwood Halloween yields between four and six transports on average, showing a decline in dangerous drinking behaviors. Additionally,
the South Campus parking structure, where the party was held, was completely cleaned within 25 minutes, compared to the usual three hours. 

Associate Director of the Smith Campus Center (SCC) and Student Programs Ellie Ash-Balá said that
Harwood Halloween has become much safer since it was moved to the South Campus
parking structure three years ago. Formerly, the event was held in the much smaller Information Technology Services parking

“Most of the
safety concerns with the event haven’t really been there for the last couple
years,” Ash-Balá said. “It’s been a really good,
well-run, safe event. It’s gotten much
more expensive to run it down there, because it’s a bigger space.”

She added that the current
discussion about canceling Harwood Halloween was based primarily on financial concerns.

Following the
cancellation of Pub earlier this semester due to a reported sexual assault,
there was some speculation that Harwood Halloween might meet the same fate when
students received a Harwood Halloween-related sexual assault e-mail notification Oct. 30—the second
such notification this semester after one was sent out regarding last year’s
Harwood Halloween. 

Associate Dean of Students for Student Development and Leadership Daren Mooko said that
the most recent reported sexual assault was different from the one reported at
Pub, since the alleged assault did not actually take place at Harwood

“It’s difficult
to say that it’s because of Harwood that it happened,” Mooko said. “So far, at least, we
don’t know if the conditions of the party caused, or created, or encouraged any
of that.”

He added that this
was the first year that alcohol was not served at the event. 

Still, Mooko
said that sexual assault could be brought to the table as the debate over
Harwood Halloween unfolds.  

“I wouldn’t say [that the
proposed cancellation is] because of [the sexual assault],” Mooko said. “I would say that
it’s part of the conversation that’s taking place.”

For the 2011 Harwood Halloween, the biggest expenses were the DJ and staging, which cost $8,090; soundproofing, which cost $5,339.78; and portable toilets and fencing, which cost $2,814.95. Other costs included noise permits, tax
licenses, and various food vendors. 

The Senate will be
debating the future of Harwood Halloween Nov. 12 from noon to 1 p.m. in
the SCC, Room 217 in a meeting open to all students.

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