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September 29, 2022

Safety concerns at Spring Fair concert

By MELISSA CHANG | April 21, 2016

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COURTESY OF SAMHITA ILANGO Over 1,000 students packed the practice field during this year’s Spring Fair concert, featuring Marian Hill, Shwayze and The Chainsmokers.

Students describe pushing, shoving, inadequate security throughout the night

The 45th annual Spring Fair brought Hopkins students and Baltimore residents together to enjoy a weekend of festivities. However, many students voiced concerns about safety issues that arose during the headliner concert held on Friday night.

At the sold-out concert, which featured Marian Hill, Shwayze and The Chainsmokers, there was pushing and shoving that students said security did not handle properly.

“While it was great to have a well-known group come to campus and have an outdoor concert for Spring Fair, the large crowd and the pushing that was happening made it too distracting to actually enjoy the concert,” senior Vidushi Purohit said. “A large group of my friends and I were pushed to the ground when Shwayze started playing, and it was very scary. I was on top of people and people were on top of me.”

Freshman Zi Choo echoed these sentiments.

“Obviously with all concerts, you’re going to have people pushing people around, but part of the concert was really bad, and got a little bit dangerous,” Zi Choo said. “When [the] Chainsmokers got on, you could tell that people started shoving and getting to the front.”

Students also commented that the chaos of the large crowd made them feel personally unsafe.

“I felt uncomfortable and irritated being in the crowd where people were pushing and shoving, then I felt a little unsafe,” junior Jenny Wagner said. “I realized I wasn’t having fun at that point so I stepped outside the crowd. Even outside the crowd, people were falling over left and right and it didn’t feel like a fun or safe environment anymore. I left just as The Chainsmokers came out on stage. I felt like I’d wasted my $30, but I wanted to get out of there.”

Spring Fair executive co-chairs Amelia Gavurin and Jordan Scharf commented on the issue of safety with regards to event organization.

“On the topic of security — we had both S.A.F.E. officers and University Security to manage the crowd, but obviously as with any concert there is only so much crowd management that can be done,” Gavurin and Scharf wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “Luckily there was a large portion of the field unused so if people felt the crowd was too much they could retreat to some open area.”

Campus Safety and Security Lieutenant Stephen Moffett also offered his response to allegations of the crowd being a safety hazard.

“I’m actually kind of surprised by their concerns,” Moffett said. “We had 33 S.A.F.E. officers devoted to the event. I myself was personally there overseeing security. I was on the field the entire time during the concert. I teamed up with Student Life representatives, along with Spring Fair representatives. We were there on the field as a team. I had two Baltimore city police officers, five campus police officers in addition to myself, six HERO members all on the field.”

Moffett explained that campus security and S.A.F.E. worked in tandem to ensure students’ safety throughout the entirety of the event.

“We don’t want to interfere with the festiveness,” he said. “We don’t want to start telling people ‘you can’t get near the stage’ and when we saw people kind of rush towards the stage, S.A.F.E. then deployed additional personnel to hold the barriers and the bike racks. S.A.F.E. personnel were literally on the frontlines. They deployed additional personnel.”

Moffett emphasized that security officers were continuously talking to each other in order to promote a safe environment at the concert.

“We were in constant communication with each other. I even had S.A.F.E. people on the roof of the Rec Center, looking down, to see from a higher vantage point,” Moffett said. “Again, we didn’t want to interfere with everyone’s fun just because. If anyone had approached me and informed me of a major issue, I would have stopped the concert if I had to. But I never saw the need to, at that point.”

S.A.F.E. declined to comment.

Aside from the security concerns at the concert on Friday night, many students were pleased with the rest of this year’s Spring Fair, which saw the introduction of the very first Gilman Tunnel Party, an underground rave. At night, there was a Beer Patio in front of Latrobe Hall.

Spring Fair co-chairs Gavurin and Scharf spoke about the Tunnel Party’s success.

“In all years past the Saturday night event has been rather unpopular so in comparison to that the Tunnel Rave was a huge success,” Gavurin and Scharf wrote. “Many people showed up and danced. It was nice to see students out on campus doing something we don’t normally do — have fun.”

Lieutenant Moffett also attested to the Tunnel Party’s success from a security standpoint.

“It was very orderly and the students were very well-behaved,” he said. “They were obviously having a good time. It wasn’t overly packed with people. Vaguely, I’d say 100 to 150 people attended. The capacity for the event in that space was around 500. So we were well below the capacity throughout.”

However, many students like senior Cathy Gong found the party underwhelming.

“I think the idea was good in theory but in reality not so great,” she said. “We left tunnel party early because it was a little awkward, and the space was too large for too little people.”

Spring Fair also hosted several competitions that students were eager to join in on. The Chariot Race, sponsored by Red Bull, was revived from two years ago. Teams built their own chariots and raced around tracks lined with haystacks.

The winning team consisted of seniors Annie Blackman, Gracie Golden and Alex Dragone.

Blackman expressed her excitement about winning the competition with her teammates.

“I was confused as to why they didn’t have it last year because it has always been one of the most fun parts of Spring Fair. I’m glad they brought it back because it was a lot of fun,” she said. “Our senior year was our time for victory. It was our last chance so we had to do it.”

As to what inspired their team name, “The Patriarchy,” Golden explained it was a joke.

“It was a joke because we were saying that historically, the Patriarchy has always come out on top and has always won,” she said. “And we were going to win. It was obviously a joke because we are both women, and we were both feminists, but I don’t know if everyone in the crowd got that it was a joke.”

Blackman said that their win came as a surprise.

“[Our chariot] was inspired by the 2001 movie Crossroads, starring Britney Spears,” she said. “There’s no reason we should have won at all, but we did. We also came out with so much Red Bull... We got to walk around and just hand people Red Bulls. We really made everyone’s day, just as our day was made.”

Spring Fair also brought in student groups to the vendor area.

Junior Preston Ge said he particularly enjoyed the arts and crafts vendors.

“In the lower quad, there was a stall from JHU Magic,” Ge said. “There was also a stall from some Physics students with interesting physics experiments. So it’s an interesting mix of people from the community and people from Hopkins.”

When the Thai Student Association (TSA) heard of opportunities for student groups to occupy booths at Spring Fair, sophomore TSA member Arisa Morgan pitched an idea to participate.

“I had the idea of buying small handmade traditional Thai bags and key chains and whatnot from locally sourced places in Thailand and selling them here,” Morgan said.

Morgan said that she hopes the proceeds from Spring Fair will help TSA’s future initiatives.

“Through [our sales], we get funding for our organization while also educating the wider campus about Thai culture,” she said. “Hopefully this is the beginning of something bigger.”

Spring Fair also hosted its second annual hot dog eating contest. Competitors ate eight hot dogs as quickly as possible.

The contest winner, freshman Steven Zhang, described why he chose to participate.

“I wanted to compete because I eat a lot, and my friends usually note that I finish before everyone else. So I guess I’m pretty fast at eating,” he said.

To win, Zhang said he planned his eating technique carefully.

“I ate all the hot dogs first. You have to minimize the amount of chewing you do, so I was stuffing two into my mouth at once,” he said. “I put the hot dog bun in water to make it easier to chew.”

Morgan praised Spring Fair for bringing the outside community directly to campus.

“This is a way for us to connect to the greater community for one weekend and then from that, pursue your own connections with the world outside of Hopkins,” she said.

Ge touched on his favorite aspects of the fair.

“The reason why I go to Spring Fair is to take myself away from the tedium of what I do everyday,” he said. “Hopkins has a reputation that everyone does work all the time, and Spring Fair is a distraction from that. So we get an idea of what college life is supposed to be.”

Gavurin and Scharf also expressed their satisfaction with the way this year’s fair turned out.

“We felt that this was one of the best Spring Fairs yet, if only because the weather cooperated for all three days of Fair,” they wrote. “On top of that, we felt there was a wide array of activities for every person to enjoy.”

Sherry Kim contributed reporting.

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