After discussing cancelation of Pomona College’s annual Harwood Halloween party in future years in an effort to minimize excessive drinking at this year’s party, Pomona administrators look set to allow the event to continue next year, despite reporting almost as many alcohol transports on Saturday night as in prior years.
Seven Claremont Colleges students were transported to the hospital due to alcohol poisoning on Saturday night, though only five of the seven were associated with Harwood Halloween, which took place in Pomona’s new South Campus Parking Structure this past weekend; the other two were associated with an event on Pitzer College’s campus. While this number parallels the number reported from last year’s party, Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) Vice President for Finance Leslie Appleton PO ’12, who helped organize this year’s event, said the behavior exhibited by students at the entrance to the party and once inside the Parking Structure was a big improvement over last year.
Two weeks ago, The Student Life reported that Pomona administrators had threatened to cancel the party in future years if student behavior continued to create security and safety issues as it did last year. While a “debriefing” process must take place before a final decision is made, Appleton and Smith Campus Center (SCC) Graduate Assistant Kirk Bernal said they did not predict that behavior at this year’s event would warrant cancelation in future years.
According to Bernal, who was involved in the planning and execution of the event, there were generally fewer problems at this year’s party, which he attributed to thorough planning and preparation.
“This year went a lot more smoothly as far as letting students in. There were no lines or pushback or any incidents of aggressive behavior,” Bernal said. “In terms of ensuring student safety at the actual party, it seems that things went really well.”
“It will definitely be a topic of discussion when the debriefings occur, but based on my observation I foresee Harwood Halloween continuing on,” he added.
According to Bernal, these debriefings will most likely take place within the next week. Bernal, Assistant Director of the SCC and Student Programs Ellie Ash-Bala, and Pomona’s new Associate Dean of Students and Director of the SCC Christopher Waugh will hold separate meetings with Campus Safety, Pomona’s Office of Campus Life (OCL), and students who helped organize the event.
Bernal said the debriefings would occur separately so that each group could accurately and honestly portray their perception of the event.
“Basically, we want to make sure that we have their perspective from the vantage point of how they worked at the party instead of having everyone together in the same room,” he said.
Appleton said she was disappointed by the number of alcohol transports this year, despite extensive efforts on the part of students and administrators to warn students to act in a safe manner.
“No matter how many e-mails we send out about drinking culture and such, that’s just the way it is,” she said.
Still, Appleton acknowledged the general success of this year’s event.
“The feedback has been pretty positive other than people saying that the lines for the food were crazy and we ran out of food early,” Appleton said.
Despite long lines at the Food Carnival, which followed the dancing portion of the party, many students said they had a good time at the event. Others, though, shared some complaints. Jake Morris-Knower PO’14 said he was not the biggest fan of the acoustics at the event, which he blamed on the Parking Garage.
“It could be that I just hate mash-ups, but I really felt that the reverb in the parking garage was creating some serious problems,” he said. “Everything kept echoing in a really weird way and it made it hard to find the beat.”