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More campus-wide events are needed to improve school spirit

By José Castellanos

Section: Opinions

March 11, 2016

Thursday, March 10 marked the beginning of Bronstein Weekend, an annual celebration held in the spring dedicated to former Professor Leo Bronstein. It was initially started in 1967 as Bronstein was about to retire. According to BrandeisNow, Bronstein Weekend, formerly a week-long event, is meant to convey Bronstein’s belief of satisfaction in life through celebration and “total humility bordering almost on the ridiculous.” It promises a variety of events, such as a Let it Go Stressbuster, a Club 33 Dance Party and the obligatory Wake n Shake that are sure to bring an air of celebration to a campus that often finds itself in dire need of such events.

This is not to say that Bronstein Weekend is the only source of campus-wide celebration. Events such as Louis-Louis Week, Liquid Latex and Spring Fest also promise to bring a change of pace to the Brandeis campus. It should be noted, however, that there was once a wider variety of events, some of which should be brought back or otherwise replaced in order to improve the lack of school spirit on campus.

In the past, the Brandeis social scene was infinitely more vibrant than it is now. Every semester, there were large school-sponsored and student-run parties to look forward to, with students having the luxury of picking and choosing which they would be able to attend, rather than being limited to two on-campus events per semester, at the most. Most of the current Brandeis student body has probably never heard of previous events such as Disco Tent, Pachanga and ModFest.

Disco Tent in particular was one of the most unique and interesting events held at Brandeis. In the fall, students would make their way to the Sachar Woods, where an independent group of students would set up the eponymous tent, which used to be considered one of the safest parties on campus. An anonymous opinion piece in The Brandeis Hoot from 2006 claimed that the organizers “picked a location in Sachar Woods that [they] felt would minimize the possibility of injury and spent countless hours removing trash from the area, cleaning up paths going into the woods, and removing rocks and other objects from the tent area that could cause a student to fall and injury [sic] him or herself. [They] maintained a volunteer base of 30 people to help the event run smoothly and assure that students did not get lost in the woods and even escorted disoriented people out to the main campus to assure no one would be injured or lost in the woods.”

However, with the parties came concerns and backlash from Brandeis administration. Disco Tent was cancelled after two students required the services of BEMCo. Pachanga faced the axe after two university police officers were assaulted and nine students were hospitalized. A similar turn of events caused ModFest to become an unofficial event slated for senior week, rather than its previous status as a semesterly celebration.

The actions of administration are completely understandable, as obviously it is within the university’s best interests to ensure that students are safe and that any risk of injury is minimized. However, the actions of administration were a blatant overreaction. There are ways to ensure the safety of students without eliminating anything even remotely resembling a party. In the words of Matt Kowalyk ’18, “I think that the campus spirit could be encouraged by larger, student-run events. But at the same time, other events and policies need to be put in place to make students feel as if they have a certain amount of agency when it comes to campus events.” And his words ring true.

Much like the parties that are happening over Bronstein Weekend, it is completely possible to have large events that are accessible to the student body as a whole while still minimizing the risk of students becoming belligerently intoxicated. For example, with events such as Disco Tent or Pachanga, there could be a closely-monitored reserved area for students who are of legal drinking age, accessible with two forms of valid ID, as is so often done already at various university-sponsored events.

Additionally, some of these events could be modified to better suit the kind of scene that administration would prefer.

For example, ModFest could have a separate beer garden while maintaining the live-music aspect and carnival-esque areas accessible to the general student body. Brandeis is undoubtedly a unique school, and school spirit is often celebrated in unique manners. However, it is undoubtedly in need of improvement. There are very few events present that set Brandeis apart, let alone events that match up with those of other schools. There are ways to address the concerns of the administration, but outright banning campus-wide events like ModFest and Disco Tent was not the appropriate approach. Rather, these events should be modified and updated so that the sense of celebration and school spirit that was brought by these events may be restored to our campus.

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