More changes made to U-Fest

Kayla Ebner, Editor-In-Chief

The university recently announced two more changes to the long-held tradition of U-Fest. 

Starting on April 27 of this year, U-Fest is now a 21 and older event only. The other major change is the location. The BYOB-style event will now be held in C-lot, the commuter lot across from the tennis courts, instead of the Bayside 200s.

On Monday, April 1, an email was sent out to the junior and senior classes which immediately sparked conversation both through word-of-mouth and social media.

Director of Student Programs and Leadership Carol Sacchetti said the changes were implemented mainly as “health and safety concerns” for students.

“U-Fest is not a student-sponsored event, it is a Student Life event,” she said, making clear that the changes did not come from students.

Vice President of Student Life John King echoed Sacchetti’s safety concerns. He said the problems they have seen in the past, mostly involving the level of alcohol intake by students, have not gone away, so something had to be done. 

“I know people were looking forward to it and one of their complaints was the late notice of the changes, but this issue is not a new issue. We’ve been talking about this for years,” he said. “There are just no ideas coming for us from students on how to make this a safer event.” 

A petition to revoke the changes made was sent out to students and has a whopping 1,047 signatures as of Wednesday, April 3 at 5 p.m. (I will update this right before print). The creator of the petition, 21-year-old Greg Stamm, wrote a statement along with the petition: “I will not lie to you, U-Fest will not entirely stop unsafe/underage drinking, there will never be a way to guarantee 100% legal and safe consumption of alcohol by college students. What U-Fest can do, however, is gather many of the upper-class students and encourage them to drink in a safe environment… BUT, if U-Fest becomes unpopular enough that students stop attending the event (which many students have said will happen if the move goes through) U-Fest will have defeated its own original purpose.”

Sacchetti noted that she has heard of two or three seniors so far who will be turning 21 before or on the day of U-Fest and said these students will be allowed to attend the event. She said these students are encouraged to reach out and she will see them on a “case-by-case basis.” 

At a Student Senate meeting on Monday, a handful of students voiced their concerns about the changes to the tradition. 

“It’s called ‘U-Fest’ for a reason, right? It should be in the ‘U’s,” said 21-year-old Matthew Shnaidman. “It just seems a little crazy to me. I also imagine that if U-Fest were not in the ‘U’s that people would just do it anyway in the ‘U’s.”

A few Senators chimed in and said they heard rumors that students would plan to organize in the ‘U’s for the event anyway. More concerns raised at the meeting included the danger of having the event on pavement instead of grass, people binge-drinking before the event even more, a lack of bathrooms and the announcement being made only weeks before the event is set to happen.

Senior Manny Colón, who lives in the Bayside 200s, said he understands the decisions made by the university and is still planning on attending the event. 

“Being over 21, it doesn’t really affect me whatsoever,” he said. “In terms of location, it would have been more convenient if it was in this courtyard just because I could come right out of my room and be here, but it’s not that big of a deal to me.” 

This is not the first time RWU has made major changes to U-Fest. Last year, the quantity of alcohol was lowered from 12 to six cans, a no re-entry policy was implemented and music was cut off at 12:30 a.m. instead of 1 a.m.

The Senate voted in support of students concerns and will be writing a resolution in response to the changes to U-Fest. They noted the students’ concerns both in terms of the way the changes were announced as well as the actual changes to the event. 

Students with comments or concerns are encouraged to email [email protected].