Student Life Editor
Strobe lights were not the only lights flashing in the Student Center last Thursday.
The Social Activities Council (SAC) held an “Operation Glow” party on May 2 in the Mabel Brown Room (MBR). The event was free and advertised as an EDM (electronic dance music) party with glow paint, foam, lasers, etc.
The doors opened at 9 p.m. with the line extending from the MBR to the Atrium conference room on the first floor. But a little after the event started, the fire alarms in the building went off causing everyone to evacuate.
The students who wanted to attend the event or were participating in it were asked to back away from the building and make a line if they were interested in going back in. SAC volunteers, student center employees and campus safety worked together to deal with the situation and calm students down. The workers at the door used a megaphone to give out instructions or updates but were met with booing and slurs coming from some of the students.
Apart from the larger crowd, there were also small groups of students observing the situation. One of those students, Sarah Flynn-Billiel said she was “a little concerned and a little disappointed in the student body for reacting so crazy to a student event where a fire alarm went off.” Flynn-Billiel was in the back of the line trying to get into the event before the alarms went off and said she did not feel comfortable going into the larger crowd when the building was evacuated.
Of those in the larger crowd, students expressed their frustration in the situation.
“This is kind of like really screwed up and honestly I pay a lot of money to go to school here because I don’t have a scholarship and it’s kind of making me really mad,” said sophomore Claire Russell.
Another sophomore, Jay Dering, was mad about the physical condition of some students and himself, “We went in there and everything is okay, we went in on time and apparently in twenty minutes the foam or the bubbles set off the fire alarm and we are all covered in water and foam and bubbles and now we have to sit out here in New Hampshire in forty-five degrees. We are all soaking wet and it’s just like a liability,” he said. Dering also said the college should have known about the event and did nothing to prevent the situation from happening.
But according to Britany Gallagher, Coordinator of Student Activities and Organizations and faculty advisor for SAC, the proper precautions were taken prior to the event.
“A couple of months ago we had reached out to Keene Fire Department, we knew that the plan was to have fog and haze and we knew there was a possibility that the fog and haze, even though its water-based could set off the fire system. So, we had the electrician come today and disable the fire alarms systems in the hallways on the second floor but we did not do that on the third floor. The third floor is what tripped the fire alarm,” she said.
John Bates, Fire Prevention Officer for the Keene Fire Department, confirmed that it was the fog and haze that set off the alarms on the third floor. Bates also said that the Operation Glow staff was told not to use the fog or haze machines following the alarm going off.
As far as how SAC and others dealt with the reactions from students, Gallagher said the behavior displayed was nothing unexpected.
“…We expect there to be students who show up belligerent. We expect there to be students who get upset when something doesn’t go exactly the way they expected it to,” Gallagher said. “So it’s just one of those things. We have those conversations beforehand.”
Campus Safety denied the request to be interviewed.
The doors reopened after the fire department cleared the building and the event ended a little past eleven.
After the event, students shared what they thought.
Sophomore Amber Hobbs said, “it was a distraction from finals before finals,” and said it stopped the urge of a lot of students to go to house parties and have fun on campus.
“We didn’t expect it to be this good… this was an 11/10, everyone had so much fun, we were going crazy and the music was great,” said sophomore Katheryn Szwed.
If you would like any more information about SAC or Operation Glow you can contact Britany Gallagher at Britany.Gallagher@Keene.edu
Jack Hanson can be
contacted at email@example.com