Just before midnight this past Saturday night, students and alumni trickled through campus decked out in dress attire and voicing complaints about the much-anticipated Homecoming Dance’s early closure. The dance, held in the tents constructed on Armstrong Quad, ended 20 minutes before its expected dismissal at midnight Sunday.
Following the dance, rumors surfaced at house parties, on sidewalks, and on social media platforms such as Yik Yak and CC Confessions. Students and alumni, confused and upset by the dance’s premature ending voiced their concerns about what they perceive as an ever-growing distance between the student body, campus safety, and the administration.
That being said, Director of Campus Safety Roy Garcia hopes to elucidate the details of what happened on Saturday night. Garcia cited the amount of people in the tent as the direct reason for closing the dance early: The tent’s maximum capacity is 600 people, and Garcia estimates he saw close to 1,000 people in the tent by the time of the closure.
Garcia, along with Officer Jason Newton and Kristi Damgaard, the Event Managers, met for “10 to 15 minutes” before deciding that the best course of action was to shut down the dance, Garcia said.
“Kristi, accompanied by Jason, walked up to the DJ. We had cooked up this ahead of time: ‘If this place gets over-packed, okay, we are going to have to shut the venue down early,’” Garcia said.
The DJ complied with Newton and Damgaard and informed the attendees, “We got to shut it down. The cops are telling us to shut it down.”
Garcia claims the DJ’s announcement to the guests proved to be detrimental toward the image of the Campus Safety and the Colorado Springs Police Department. “We were all disappointed [with how the DJ phrased the closure]. We anticipated that there would be some blowback as a result of that, and we discussed that. In light of some of the things that have taken place at off-campus party events, we were looking to building better relationships and understanding,” Garcia said.
He clarifies that it was not in fact the Colorado Springs Police Department that opted to shut the dance down; instead, he, Newton, and Damgaard made the executive decision.
The Director of Campus Safety laments that Newton’s presence around the stage did not help the situation: “When you have close to a thousand people and Jason Newton, an officer, standing there, what does that look like? That’s not the case—it was not the police.”
The decision to shut down the Homecoming Dance was made due to the fact that the amount of people in the venue far exceeded the amount that would ensure the guests’ safety if there were an emergency situation.
With that in mind, Garcia points out that the event “wasn’t overly loud. It was well organized. The difficult part was trying to maintain the amount of people coming in versus the amount of people leaving.”
This Homecoming Dance was Garcia’s first, and he believes that the Alumni Weekend as a whole went along well. “There was a lot of good activity, a lot of good events going on, a lot of interacting with one another,” Garcia said.
Unfortunately, when he [the DJ] made the announcement, Jason was standing next to him, he was accompanying Kristi, and he said, “We gotta shut it down, the cops are telling us to shut it down” and that is far from the truth. When you have close to thousand people and Jason Newton, an officer, standing there, what does it look like? That’s not the case, it was not the police did not shut it down, this was a decision made by all of us. It was the safety of the students that we were concerned about because of the over capacity of the number of people that weer in the tent.
They did not have to go through anyone else to make the decision, again, in our pre planning stuff, we had talked about, there’s always a plan b whenever you are planning any big event. Kristi who was the event’s coordinator, the liason with that, myself
We discussed this for ten to fifteen minutes and it was twenty minutes until twelve ad the event was being closed down at twelve. We shut it down 20 minutes early. And again, our concern was being able to get the folks out of there in a safe manner. That was the whole decision was based on safety. It had nothing to do with the police saying shut it down, it wasn’t overly loud, it was well organized. The difficult part was trying to maintain the amount of people coming in versus the amount of people leaving.
Police part of staffing from campus safety planning
Jason, the campus resource officer is part of our network when we discuss things like this, we felt collectively, we talked to Kristi collectively, we said heres our recommendation, heres what we see from a safety standpoint and it was agreed upon to go ahead and shut it down twenty minutes earlier than what it was scheduled for
We were all disappointed [with the DJ for phrasing it as such] we anticipated that there would be some blow back as a result of that and we discussed that. In light of some of the things that have taken place at off-campus party events we were looking to building better relationships and understanding. And here he comes along thinking he was funny
Other ways to communicate there side
No outstanding alchohol related issues, nothing of the sort contributed to the shut down
His first homecoming
There was a lot of good activity, a lot of good events going on, a lot of interacting with one another
A lot of alumni asked about the differences in campus safety from when they went to school and how we are moving forward
Theres was no negative, I didn’t see anything that I would say would’ve ruined, or put a black mark on the event.
Plan of action
Deferred to krisit
The tent 600 person capacity, without counting but based on speculation, had 1000 people