‘One size fits all’ event policy questioned
The student event policy is an organizational tool that helps Student Affairs keep abreast of campus life, but many students see the current policy – with its murky definition of what constitutes an event – as overly rigid and not conducive to impromptu gatherings.
“Once the student submits [an event request form] then I consider that an event,” Campus Life Coordinator Vanessa Van Dyke said. Currently, requests for any event that uses student space other than ACE lounge or student dorms must be made two weeks in advance. Events may include, for instance, a substance free movie showing.
An event without proof of an approved request form is subject to being shut down by the NCF police. Other reasons why events may get shut down have to do with substance use and noise level. Drinking alcohol in public spaces is not legal in most Florida municipalities. Approved event requests serve the purpose of effectively turning outdoor public spaces into private spaces, therefore sidestepping this law. Campus police reserves the right to step in and shut down any events for substances and noise complaints, regardless of an approved event request.
Some argue that by treating all events equally, the current event policy creates unnecessary bureaucratic hoops. “I think a rigid event policy should only apply to things like Walls, concerts and Palm Court Parties (PCPs),” third-year and Vice President of Student Affairs McCalister Grant said. “Things where student funds or expensive student equipment is being used, where alcohol is potentially being consumed, where there is a large enough group of people to necessitate a police presence. Those are the kind of things I would personally advocate for being defined as events.”
Grant supports greater flexibility in the event policy. “There needs to be a clearly defined policy of what is an event and what needs the event request form,” Grant said. “Should all events be treated equally? I think the one-size fits all model is not working. I think it’s causing problems.”
He and police liaison, thesis student James Carillo, are working to produce a student-sourced revision to the current policy. “I’d like to see something written that allows students to spontaneously congregate when they desire to,” Carillo said, adding that they have attended multiple impromptu events that have been shut down. Carillo noted that in the last four years, the policy has become increasingly unclear.
As police liaison, Carillo is aware of the logistical concerns implicated in the event policy. With reduced overtime hours, campus police and administration are particularly cautious in making sure there is enough police on staff for larger events. Carillo recalled last year’s annual All Power to the Imagination conference (API), which got prematurely shut down despite having an approved request form filed months in advance. That night, alum and former NCSA president Micheal Long hosted a Wall for Ringling and NCF students. Long’s event, which was approved long after API, took precedence since it hosted more than 400 people.
Thesis student Nova Jones ran into similar trouble when scheduling Woodstock Wall. Despite filing an approved event request form, Jones’ event had to be rescheduled multiple times due to scheduling conflicts with Valentine’s PCP. “I was told that in order to secure that day for Woodstock Wall, I would need to provide hundreds of dollars of additional funding for security to keep my event on that day, even though I already had an approved event request form and PCP hadn’t been on the calendar,” Jones said. “With so little time, it was impossible to navigate, so I rescheduled for a third time. I had a few performers I was really excited for who will be either unable or unwilling to come [now].”
Van Dyke dismissed the notion of a supposed “no two events policy,” stating, “I think the only concern that we have is if there are two events that are not substance free that are happening at the same time.”
The process for filing an event request form remains straightforward; students may access the request form through the portal. Questions on the form include anticipated attendance, dates, times and locations. All locations are subject to approval from Campus Space Scheduling. “I think it’s important for students to submit event requests as much as possible,” Van Dyke said, adding that the requests are useful for providing visibility to the events and any needed support to the event sponsors.