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Volume CXXXII, Number 23
May 2, 2003

Security officers, cameras deter dining hall rowdiness

In an effort to control any rowdy student behavior occurring as a result of Ivies Weekend, Security officers were present at dinnertime in Thorne Dining Hall on both Friday and Saturday evening. Dining Services requested that Security "staff the evening meals at Thorne on Friday and Saturday nights because of past problems in the dining hall over Ivies Weekend," Director of Security Bruce Boucher explained.

Security officers were present and filmed the dinner meal on the evening of Saturday, April 26. "Due to the numerous problems and outrageous behavior that occurred on Friday night, it was decided to use a video camera system in an effort to deter any similar behavior Saturday," Boucher said. He added, "It was my understanding that Saturday night was more civil during the mealtime hours."

"Because of our experience the past two years, we wanted to be proactive in dealing with Ivies Weekend issues this year," Director of Dining Services Mary Lou Kennedy said. "[Our staff members] are not trained to deal with drunk and disorderly conduct or students who don't respect their authority-nor do [they] want to assume that role."

Kennedy cited the large size of the dining room at Thorne as a factor in the fact that student behavior got out of control. "The dining room at Thorne Hall seats over 500 people, and with the number of students who were drunk when they arrived there and whose behavior was beyond unruly and whose judgment was totally clouded by the effects of alcohol, it was overwhelming for staff, supervisors, and the Security personnel on duty," she explained. She added, "We're truly disappointed that it became so unruly at Thorne Hall that we felt the need to ask Security to assist us and to identify specific individuals who totally abandoned any attempt at civility."

While most students comprehend that mealtimes on Ivies Weekend can be difficult to control, not everyone agreed with the actions taken. Adam Ringel '04 said that while the presence of Security during dinner was "not necessarily a bad thing," he felt that "it wasn't great that they were videotaping."

Other students had no problem with security during meals. Alex Cornell du Houx '06 said, "I don't see any harm in them coming to the dining hall; if it makes Dining Services feel better then it's fine."

Caroline Budney '03 said "I can see how they are justified in doing that, since I understand that Friday dinner was pretty unruly and they would want to be able to know who was causing any damage that occurs."

The apparent success of this effort to lessen the disruption of students at dinner during Ivies Weekend has led Boucher to keep the option in mind for coming years. "Based on the circumstances and lessons learned from this year, we will plan accordingly if requested to assist dining next year during Ivies weekend," he said.

Dean of Student Affairs Craig Bradley said that the presence of Security during Ivies Weekend meals "made some sense. I understand the idea behind it, because it was necessary to find some way to control the students."

Bradley also expressed regret that the effort to control students during Ivies Weekend has reached this level: "It's unfortunate that five percent of the students ruin the dining experience for the others present and create problems for the dining staff who work so hard to give students a good experience," he said.

Moulton Union did not experience the same problems with intoxicated students. Kennedy called the students who chose to eat there "more respectful. It was obvious that many had been drinking but they did not let their fun get out of control."

"We expect that adjustments will be made to make things better for everyone next year," Kennedy said. "Hopefully this was a learning experience for all of us."

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