Last Saturday afternoon, the administration made the decision to postpone the First Chance dance, which had been scheduled for that night. The Class of 2012 received an e-mail from Doug Schiazza, director of the Office of Student Life, at 3:33 p.m. announcing that the dance had been postponed due to the weekend’s surprise snowstorm. Yesterday, Schiazza sent a follow-up e-mail announcing that the dance has been officially scheduled for this Saturday, Nov. 5.
According to Schiazza’s first e-mail, several factors contributed to the decision to postpone the dance. The forecast for heavy snow – the National Weather Service was predicting 18 inches of snowfall as of Saturday afternoon – would have made it difficult for the 34 staff members working the event to travel home afterward. Steve Klass, vice president for campus life, said that the staff members involved in the dance normally include bartenders, Campus Safety and Security officers and Student Life staff.
“This isn’t a simple plug-and-play numbers game,” Klass said. “We need the right people with the right training, experience and certification, and we need the right ratio of those specific people relative to the number of event attendees.”
Additionally, while not mentioned in the e-mail, the possibility of a power outage was a major factor in the decision to postpone the dance. “An outage during the dance would have ruined it, of course, but it would also have been a challenge to manage the large crowd inside and the line outside,” Dean Bolton said. “All [Security] officers would not only be needed to clear the building safely, but they would also be urgently needed elsewhere on campus to manage other impacts of the power going out.”
Bolton and other administrators first became aware of the potentially serious storm on Friday at 4:30 p.m., but it wasn’t until around noon on Saturday, when the storm predictions were significantly revised, that postponing First Chance became an option. “[Noon on Saturday] was the first time we heard that we should expect 18 inches of wet snow with high winds,” Bolton said. Bolton, Klass, Schiazza and Dave Boyer, director of Security, then met at around 1:30 p.m., and by 2:30 p.m., they had decided to postpone the event.
“While it is possible that we might have been able to come to a decision as much as one hour earlier, given the timing of the information about the information of the storm, that’s the earliest that would have been possible,” Bolton said. “We took time to make the decision because we knew it would be a great disappointment to the class to postpone, and we wanted to think through every possible way to pull it off before making the decision.”
Although the College ultimately did not lose power during the storm, Klass said that things easily could have turned out differently. “We did everything possible to ensure the safety of our students and staff, which included postponing this party,” he said.
The senior class officers, who planned First Chance, were not involved in the decision to postpone the dance. The class officers heavily involved in planning were class co-presidents Lisa Jaris ’12 and Will Su ’12, class treasurer Elizabeth Greiter ’12 and event coordinator Paula Moren ’12.
“While we have been highly involved in planning every detail of the event for weeks now, we were not highly involved in the decision-making to postpone,” Su said. “We were notified of [the administrators’] concerns, rationale and decision by e-mail before the communication was made to the entire class.” Schiazza sent the e-mail informing the class officers of the decision at 3:02 p.m., just over half an hour before the rest of the class was notified. According to Jaris, she and Moren had just gotten back from Stop & Shop, where they were picking up soda and the catered food for the event, when they received Schiazza’s e-mail.
“The postponement obviously came as a huge disappointment to our whole class, all our guests and the class officers who have been working towards this for weeks,” Su said. “It was a blow to the immense energy everyone had looking forward to First Chance.”
Despite their frustration, the senior class officers shortly began rescheduling the event and figuring out the logistics for the new date. According to Jaris, Student Activities Coordinator Ellen Rougeau has been helping the class officers get in contact with Connors Brothers, who were helping move furniture for the event, as well as re-book Security officers, hosts, servers, bartenders and other staff.
Schiazza explained that there will be few added costs to the senior class budget due to the postponement. “Some [perishable] food was already purchased, and the furniture removal will be a little more expensive,” he said. “This past weekend, we were sharing costs with another program in Paresky, but because we postponed when we did, those additional costs will, thankfully, be minimal. Most of those expenses,” including decorations, staffing and the DJ and sound system, “can be shifted to the new date.”
According to Schiazza’s follow-up e-mail announcing the new date, although there were several student conflicts on both weekends, scheduling the dance on Saturday will be less costly than pushing it to Nov. 19. “We will be able to use more of the food already purchased by doing it this coming weekend, and [we] will not have to pay for a new liquor license,” Schiazza’s e-mail said.
The class officers expressed positivity about the prospect of the upcoming dance. “None of the class officers are going to dwell on this; we have work to do,” Su said. “We’re not a team that’s going to let a setback get us down, and we’re going to get after our second