School wide dances have been a hot topic for debate on Pacific’s campus over the past few years, sparking many discussions among students and faculty about whether or not they have a place here. A great deal of confusion also surrounds dances and the question that many students find themselves asking within moments of stepping onto campus after a long and peaceful summer is the question of whether or not dances will return.
“Dances never left,” Pete Erschen, the activities and cultural events board advisor said.
According to Erschen, dances were only put on hold after there was a realization of a need for rule changes following the dance that took place in the Stoller Center in the May of 2014.
In years previous, the end of the year school dance that took place in May was named the “BoxerBall.” However, in 2014 the name of the dance was dropped and changed to something new in an effort by members of the ACE Board that year to better people’s opinions of the dance.
However, the name change did little to stop the recurring problems that Erschen and other school officials began to see as a developing trend at school dances.
“There was vomit in multiple locations of the Stoller Center, multiple Minor in Possession citations were given out, and there was an uptick in sexual misconduct and sexual assaults reported after the dance,” Erschen said of the May of 2014 dance.
Following the event, the ACE Board sat with other school officials and began to formulate new rules in an attempt to make dances a safer and more enjoyable place for students.
The new set of rules which were put into place in 2015 prohibit any alcohol on the premises of dances and make it a punishable offense to engage in any unwanted contact of any sort with a nonconsenting individual or individuals.
The new rules also prohibit any reentry into dances after an individual has left for any reason and also require students pick up tickets to the dance one day in advance in the University Center.
According to Erschen, the new rules for dances have been an overall success. He also explained that, to his knowledge, there have been no reports of sexual assault or misconduct following dances in the wake of the newly enforced rules.
“I think the new rules have been effective. We had to throw some people out and turn some people away but we have not had any problems reported to us after or during dances like we had before,” Erschen said. “In the past two years, to my knowledge, no one has thrown up at a dance, no one reported a sexual assault after a dance, there were no injuries, there were no fights, there were no minor in possession citations given out, so they were safe.”
Now that dances have been made safer for students, the ACE Board faces the challenge of once again sparking students’ interest and attendance in dances after noticing a decrease in the number of dance goers during the 2015-2016 school year.
According to ACE Board President Gabie Mbenza-Ngoma, the ACE Board and Student Senate are working together to make the process of obtaining tickets to dances easier for students, as the current protocol for tickets was identified as a possible deterrent to students for dances.
“Right now, we are really trying to determine what will make dances fun for people as well as continue to keep them safe,” Mbenza-Ngoma said.
The ACE Board is looking forward to the year ahead and plans on at least hosting two dances.
They also plan to bring more speakers onto campus and are currently in the process of starting a “Dive-in-Movie Night” where students can watch a movie while swimming in the aquatic center.