A punk concert held last weekend at Harkness House was cut short by the departments of Residential Life and Security during the final band's set due to complaints from residents, who said they felt threatened by the presence of out-of-town people.
Assistant Dean of Students Yeworkwha Belachew, who was called to the scene by Security around 12:15 a.m., said, "[Residents] felt their house had been invaded by guests who did not have any respect for the community." She estimated that three-quarters of the concert attendees were not college students.
"Our students looked kind of nervous," Belachew said.
Because many of the people in Harkness were made to feel uncomfortable by the evening's events, a house meeting was held to provide a forum for residents to speak to their frustrations about the event. Part of the meeting's purpose, junior Harkness Loose Ends Coordinator Adrian Aveni-Deforge said, was to ensure that problems of this nature do not arise from any Harkness event held in the future.
The show's noise was not the problem that lead to the event getting shut down.
The show attracted around 300 people, according to organizer Art Ettinger, a junior, who said most fans came from Cleveland, but also from as far away as Washington and Pittsburgh. The evening's main draw was the Crucifucks, a punk band from Michigan. "They're really, really famous," Ettinger said, adding that most people came to Harkness to see the Crucifucks give their first concert in nine years. It was during the Crucifucks set that the concert unexpectedly ended. The other bands at the show hailed from Ohio or campus.
Ettinger said he advertised the show by putting up flyers in Cleveland. He said other people found out about it through word-of-mouth or over the Internet. It was also advertised on-campus.
Belachew said there were several problems with the show's organization and planning. She said the concert was not approved through the proper channels and that Harkness did not address issues of crowd control. Belachew said another problem was that no one discussed guest policies and I.D checking as well as the possibility of alcohol presence.
Alcohol was not provided at the event, though people brought their own. Ettinger said he was told that he only had to gain the approval of the dining co-op, but not the housing co-op, if alcohol was not being served.
Sophomore Mary Beth Holt, a Harkness resident who brought the show up for approval before the dining co-op, said the house only has to be asked if alcohol is being served - "just out of courtesy - it's more like a party."
Aveni-Deforge said the event's organizers should have gained approval from the house, and that they were aware of this. Aveni-Deforge also said that the show was brought up before the dining co-op "basically a long time ago … People didn't know it was going to happen. Basically [the show] materialized under people's noses." Aveni-Deforge said the show was discussed two weeks ago.
Most people, Aveni-Deforge said, were not even aware that the show was happening until people started arriving. "They were all completely decked out in costumes of various sorts. They were obviously up in the punk scene," Aveni-Deforge said.
Aveni-Deforge said that certain things that are supposed to be done at parties, such as setting up people to guard the stairwell, were not done. Ettinger said he was never told to do any of those things. Aveni-Deforge said, "Anyone planning a party is responsible for set-up … It's pretty obvious that these are things that need to happen at parties."
Aveni-Deforge said there was "a lot of damage" to the house because of the show, in particular to the Harkness carpet, and he said Harkness plans to ask Ettinger to pay for the rental of the carpet cleaning machine. He also said Harkness was not cleaned as adequately as it should have been.
Ettinger said he stayed at Harkness until 5 a.m. cleaning up after the show. "Harkness is completely clean now," he said. Ettinger also said that there was no damage done, adding that he didn't know why he was being held accountable for events that Harkness approved.
Belachew said that it is due to his cleaning actions that Ettinger is not being brought up on judicial board charges for organizing the event. "[Ettinger] made an effort to comply or fix a problem that was beyond his control."
Ettinger said he felt he assumed responsibility for the event and that it was a good show. He also said that the crowd was not a problem. "There were a lot of people not causing any harm." He said there were no fights or problems.
Holt agreed that the crowd was not a problem. She said she saw one man who was "being obnoxious … I asked him to leave [and he did]."
"Basically," Ettinger said, "there were a lot of punks on campus and people got scared."
Aveni-Deforge and Belachew did not find the crowd as courteous as Ettinger or Holt.
The event, Belachew said, "was the first time in my life I've felt a little bit threatened on this campus." She said she felt the bands and crowd were rude and disrespectful. Both Belachew and Aveni-Deforge said that there were fights at the show and that people were throwing bottles.
Aveni-Deforge said people were harassing members of the house and that records were stolen from a resident's room. "They were pretty hostile," Aveni-Deforge said of the crowd.
Belachew said she has no problem with out-of-town people, "but out of-town-people need to know our culture."
Belachew said she hopes Harkness will re-examine its party policy and decide to include provisions for an event where alcohol is not being served, but there is a large crowd and bands are playing.
Aveni-Deforge said that as a result of the problems arising from this event, Harkness must plan all its parties in conjunction with Residential Life.
Ettinger said he regrets that because of last weekend's event more punk shows will probably not be held on campus. He said that a concert that was going to be held as a fund-raiser to benefit Oberlin Students for Prison Awareness has already been canceled.
"I'm pretty upset that people my own age are acting so high and mighty," Ettinger said.
He added, "I don't see what the big deal was. I got to see a band I've been listening to since I was 14."
Copyright © 1996, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 124, Number 23; May 3, 1996
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