After years of unyielding issues, Moorebid, the popular dance held to celebrate Halloween, and named after Moore Hall, an off-campus residential hall that closed in 2006, has been cancelled for this year and the foreseeable future. The decision to cancel Moorebid—a perennial consideration but never coming to fruition until now—was advocated after last year's event by Joshua Nelson, Director of Leadership Activities, and supported by Director of Campus Life David Karp and Dean of Student Affairs Rochelle Calhoun.
The cancellation of Moorebid comes as a surprise to many, as last year's dance is considered one of the more successful in years. Nelson acknowledged as much in a private interview and in a letter to the editor. "Truly last year was one of the best, if not the best, planned Moorebid in the history of the event. Nonetheless, the meaning behind the tradition was lost amongst the students using drugs and alcohol to fuel a night of no-rules and destructive actions. The concern was not the event itself, but the pattern of high-risk, sometimes life-threatening behavior that accompanied Moorebid."
According to SGA President Addison Bennett '16, "The cancellation was a result of a trend of Moorebids that the administration felt were unsafe and disrespected. The Office of Leadership Activities articulated to us that due to the cultural expectations of the event, they do not feel there is any way to hold the event in a safe way."
Nelson estimates that eleven people were sent to the hospital at least year's event, and Bennett also noted that the number of people treated by the Skidmore College Emergency Medical Service during the dance was a cause for concern. "We believe Moorebid was generally a success last year. To be clear, there were obvious safety concerns, including the sheer number of people in the event at once or the number of SCEMS dispatches for alcohol-related calls, " Bennett said.
Moorebid has a history of being hazardous and has been shut down multiple times before due to overcrowding. In 2010, the event made national news when 11 students were treated for alcohol poisoning at Saratoga Hospital. After that year, the venue for Moorebid was switched from Case Center to the Recreational and Dance gyms to mitigate overcrowding, however, after approximately 1,400 students tried to squeeze through the halls of the Williamson Sports Center to reach the dance floors, the dance was shut down early. In 2012 the event ran its full course when it was hosted in the big gym of the Sports Center and student participation was capped at 800. Seven students were hospitalized that year for alcohol poisoning, but only four from Moorebid. The others were from the residential halls.
The circumstances that make Moorebid so problematic are multifold. One is the culture of excessive-drinking that surrounds the dance, and perhaps Halloween in general, as Nelson iterated. Some also believe that because this is the first large community dance, first-years may overzealously drink for the event. The Big Show hosted earlier in October is supposed to steal some of this enthusiasm, and the introduction of Fall Fun Day in 2012 was to serve a similar purpose in part.
The second issue is overcrowding. One of the most popular events on campus, the venues for Moorebid—Case and the Sports Center—are incapable of accommodating. Even after students had to buy tickets, overcrowding remained problematic and reports of student trampling continued.
"We tried various venues around campus (entire Case Center, Williamson Sports Gym, Recreation Gym, SPA). We tried to increase capacity; we tried limiting capacity. We increased on campus safety officers and hired outside security to help staff the event. We partnered with the Office of Health Promotions in awareness campaigns and even offered discounted tickets if you attend an alcohol awareness event prior to Moorebid. Nothing seemed to curb the riotous behavior of students," Nelson wrote in his letter.
A third issue, often overlooked, is the aggressive behavior of students during the event. Nelson recounts having beer bottles and other detritus thrown at him last year when they wouldn't let students enter; students shoving other students; disrespect toward Campus Safety officers; and a massive bill from facilities for having to work overtime to clean up vomit across the building and campus.
Still, Bennett thought the event went pretty well overall. "I think Moorebid went about as well as it could have last year. The SGA event planners thought of every detail, the safety concerns were generally well managed, and most importantly, students obviously enjoyed it."
In lieu of Moorebid, SGA will look to fund other events, one being the Founder's Day barbecue that occurred early September. Nelson also mentioned that other clubs plan to fill the void with their own events, including a haunted house and slew of film screenings. SGA will also continue the discussion on Moorebid and the possibility of reviving it in the future. "We will keep the conversations going for sure," Bennett said. "I’ve already spoken to many administrators about the future of Halloween events at Skidmore, and I’m hopeful for good solutions in the future. One of our many jobs is to put on enjoyable student events, and we won’t forget that mission."