By Joe Engleman
This year 10/10 went as far as Gardner but it didn’t go south. Not a single student was hospitalized or arrested, and there have been no major reports of theft or vandalism.
In the past, these issues have popped up and placed the largest party of the fall semester under intense scrutiny. The tension and anxiety around this year’s 10/10 was palpable.
“I think that this year, more than any other year, people were worried that this could be the last 10/10 if things went south,” said Travis Greene, Dean of Students. “I think it’s a testament to the student body that self-gov worked. … This was the first year we didn’t have to have a mop-up meeting on Monday morning to talk about 10/10.”
Party organizer Carter Wiese ’14 concurred.
“Once [10/10] starts, it’s up to the students to make the right decisions, and they did great this year,” Wiese said.
Wiese’s all-campus email encouraged the student body to prove to the administration that students are capable of governing themselves.
“Houston Dougharty [Student Affairs] made our situation explicit by stating that if the Grinnell campus cannot self-gov this party, the administration will have to govern it for us,” he said in the email.
Wiese said that Dougharty’s comment came during the meeting with new Grinnell Police Chief Dennis Reilly after Reilly made it clear that police officers would be doing their normal patrols along the main thoroughfares of campus.
“I don’t think it was a threat towards 10/10,” Wiese said. “The decisions we make affect how 10/10 will be perceived in the future… I think getting that line across helped students realize that they’re in control. It’s their decision to keep 10/10 alive.”
Greene did make it clear that if things had gone badly, changes would have been likely.
“If we had had vandals, hospitalizations or severe acts of vandalism, yeah, 10/10 could be in jeopardy of not existing as we currently know it,” he said.
Some students, such as SGA Administrative Coordinator Ron Chiu ’13, took self-governance a step further. Chiu donned a Batman costume and patrolled the Younker stop and the South Campus loggia.
“In addition to a thirst for alcohol, I had a sudden urge and thirst for vigilantism,” Chiu said. “Crime fighting doesn’t stop when partying happens.”
However, without any crimes to prevent this year, crime fighters like Chiu turned their attention to other problems.
“I enforced having a good time,” he said.
While 10/10 was filled with self-governing students, campus unity, and Batman, the night before 10/10 was a different story. An alum was hospitalized and airlifted to Iowa City on Friday night for what Greene described as “probably the worst alcohol poisoning we’ve ever seen.”
In addition, Greene said the main lobby of the JRC was vandalized. Some posters were torn down and toilet paper was dragged out of the bathroom and into the hallway. Another alum was hospitalized briefly, but then released, and four alums were issued no-trespass violations and asked not to come back to campus. Another alum was caught in the process of painting a mural on the back of the JRC.
“There was a mural right outside where the campus shot would have been,” Greene said. “It would have had an elephant in the clouds with the numbers 10/10 written on it. And you can see the thinking man outside Burling Library—it’s the same artist. Now we know who to bill for the clean-up.”
Two more alums were stopped by police just before they planned to drink and drive. They were released without a citation, and Campus Security took them back to their hotel.
Harm Reduction Committee held a 10/10 post-mortem Thursday. Assistant Director of Residence Life Dan Hirsch, who was the 10/10 RLC on-call for the fourth straight year, said that overall he was satisfied with how the party went. Last year he received 30 calls, but this year there were none. He did have some concerns, though.
“It definitely seemed like the most calm but fun 10/10 I’ve seen,” Hirsch said.
“There were definitely people I saw that were intoxicated, so the lack of calls into me as RLC is reflective of probably two things, and I don’t know what the balance was. One is probably that people were more under control, and didn’t need assessment of some sort. And the other part is there was an incentive to do well, but there was also pressure to do well. I think some people may have been discouraged from calling the RLC because of fear of repercussions, which we never want in any situation. So, somewhere in the middle is probably where the reality was.”
Wellness Coordinator Jen Jacobsen ’95 echoed Hirsch’s concerns, but also joked that 10/10 had to have played out well if the major point of criticism was that no one called the RLC on-call for help.
“To go from 30 calls to no calls? Either the party organizing went flawless and everyone bought into it, or there’s a little disincentive to call in a tough judgment,” she said.
One member of the committee, JaMaLand Senator Brian Silberberg ’14, voiced his opinion that Hirsch and Jacobsen were making a mountain out of a molehill.
“From the perspective of being a student, I’ve never heard of anyone, with this event in particular, voice that concern as really being something they were cognizant of. I don’t know how up-front that concern was with people,” he said. “I’m sure there were those people, but I don’t think it was a major factor.”
Much of the attention paid to this year’s 10/10 was around the last-minute date switch. The party’s organizers initially wanted to host 10/10 on Oct. 13, which SGA and the All-Campus Events Committee endorsed. The party was then moved to Oct. 6.
“There wasn’t anyone at the College saying it had to be on October 6th. We just said it couldn’t be this weekend. I know that some of the campus dialogue was ‘the administration said it had to be [October 6],’” Greene said. “It could have been in November… We just couldn’t have it on the night that the trustees were here.”
Wiese explained how the organizers chose the sixth.
“The sixth was the best option. We couldn’t do it before fall break … because we couldn’t get alcohol contracts for the weekend before … because the school’s not in session. We didn’t want to do it after [break] when it was cold,” he said.
The organizers were boxed in by the trustees’ weekend, the uncertainty of November weather and college policy, which mandates that campus be substance-free over breaks. Greene conceded that throwing an outdoor party like 10/10 in November would have been risky. These barriers led the organizers to pick Oct. 6.
The only major drawback to this was that the planning period was much more compressed. This almost makes the fact that there were not hospitalizations or arrests even more impressive.
“It basically just took a week off our planning,” Wiese said. “In the end we came out even.”
Greene said he believes that next year’s 10/10 will be planned further in advance, and that issues like the date switch won’t be repeated.
“One of the lessons learned, I think, if you were to ask the organizers, they would be the first to admit that they were a little slow to getting the process going as far as reaching out to the Harm Reduction Committee. But most of the organizers are coming back,” Greene said. “Whatever hiccups or wrinkles they experienced this year, they’ll be more on the ball and get the process going.”
“I think we all agree that we should have gotten on it earlier,” Wiese said. “Hopefully, in the future, the date will be planned earlier in the fall or even in the spring.”