Harwood Halloween Faces Budget Cuts, Location Change

Location, location, location. Such is the motto in real estate, and such is the embodiment of change to Pomona College’s party of the year.

Harwood Halloween, an annual extravaganza that, according to College Prowler, was once heralded by Playboy as one of the Top 10 college parties in the country, is undergoing massive cutbacks this year, brought about by a stark decrease in budget. Location, ticket sales, attendance numbers and size are facing reductions, sending the party from the South Campus Parking Structure to Edmunds Ballroom. 

The space will also be capped to 1,100 guests to accommodate safety codes. Tickets to the event will cost $5 per person, a measure meant to provide increased funding for future events and activities throughout the year. Tickets can be bought online through the event’s Facebook page, with more than 900 tickets remaining as of Oct. 22. Outside guests will have to pre-register to attend and will have to check in the night of the event in the Smith Campus Center Manager’s Office. 

Sam Crawford PO ’16, who has been co-leading the planning of the event through the annual events subcommittee of the Pomona Events Committee (PEC), spoke positively about the changes. 

“Because we don’t have to focus on the same crowd control and maintenance as we would in the parking garage, we can focus more than ever on aesthetics,” he said. “Better lighting, better ambience, better DJ, free food—it’s going to be more enjoyable than before.” 

These changes follow a decision made by the Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) last March to halve the budget for Harwood Halloween to provide more spending for other events. The decision did not stipulate which changes had to be made, only that the event must cost less. The decision to cap the budget set off six months of extensive searching on how to cut spending but maintain the character and popularity of the event. The budget this year is $20,000, down from $37,000 last year, according to a Nov. 15, 2013, issue of TSL

“Harwood was becoming increasingly expensive, to the tune of $35 to $40,000,” said Ellie Ash-Balá, faculty adviser to PEC. “When that happened again last year the ASPC senate, who funds PEC and who funds the parties, decided that was just far too much money to spend on one for a couple hours.”

Joseph Reynolds PO ’15, the former ASPC vice president for campus events and current commissioner of clubs, agreed that the change in budget was a progressive one for the college.

“The change to reduce the price was just a necessary step towards being a little more cost-conscious,” he said. “We’re making sure that PEC continues to be the main on-campus source for alcohol-registered and non-alcohol-registered events.”

However, other students have reacted less positively to the changes to the event, especially concerning the new admission fee.

“I’m conflicted about spending money,” Natalie Dennis PO ’15 said. “It’s more in principle. I was not informed of a reason for charging, so I don’t know why I’m paying … But downsizing is good way to reduce cost and provide more funding for the student body.”

Julie Necarsulmer PO ’15 shared Dennis’ view that the changes, while perhaps necessary, were not properly explained to students.

“It would be nice to be given some kind of explanation for why they’re charging,” she said. “It seems arbitrary… I’ve talked to people and I still don’t know why.”

Conor Hudson PO ’15 said that despite the fee, he supports the move to Edmunds. 

“Not having to soundproof the room will open funding for other areas of student life,” he said. 

Crawford said that various locations were considered, including Athearn Field, Sontag Greek Theater and Marston Quadrangle. However, each location had its downfalls: inadequacy to support the number of people, amplification of noise to surrounding homes and too large and impersonal a space, respectively. 

The Information Technology Services/Staff Parking garage on Seventh Street, where the party has historically been held, was potentially dangerous to students, Ash-Balá noted.

“The parking garage had slanted levels,” she said. “What ended up happening is you’d have a few thousand guests sliding and pushing their way towards the front, crushing people. It was too hectic to control.”

Because the event was held in an unenclosed space for the past three years, a majority of the spending was on equipment rentals, meant to keep the party controlled yet exciting. After numerous complaints from neighbors, fencing and sound blankets were purchased to prevent excess noise from disturbing surrounding homes. Toilets, generators and power equipment were also required to accommodate the more than 3,000 guests in attendance. Furthermore, 35 Campus Safety officers were staffed to the area for crowd-control purposes. 

In the new system, many of the previous rental costs will be nonexistent as indoor facilities and power systems are all in place and ready to be used. In addition, since the ballroom has only one entrance, the event will cut down its Campus Safety guard presence from 35 to 15. 

Tickets for the event are now available online through a link on the event Facebook page and at the ASPC office.

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