By: Caroline Roy ’20
Another spring at Davidson means another weekend of concerts, free food, and activities on the Patterson Court Lawn, but for the many organizations that work together to plan Frolics, it is more than just two days of fun.
Events like the DIY fanny pack station, inflatables, and food trucks were all put on by the Union Board, who also worked alongside Patterson Court Council (PCC) and Student Government Association (SGA) to coordinate the event in a way that was safe and available to the entire student body. According to outgoing Union Board President Meredith Hess ‘18, the Union Board met multiple times over the semester with representatives from other campus organizations and also had conversations with Residence Life Office (RLO) and Campus Police.
“Knowing that this is the last weekend where everyone is on campus, there’s a lot of pressure to help everyone have a good time,” Hess said. “I don’t want their last weekend to be exclusionary, I want them to think there’s something for them.”
Most of the students in charge of planning Frolics have participated at least once before and understand some of the challenges that come with such a large scale campus event. In past years, Frolics has drawn negative attention because of the excessive alcohol consumption that usually accompanies it, but the student leaders are constantly looking for ways to make it a safer environment.
This year, members of SGA, PCC, and Union Board teamed up to create a Frolics Survival Guide, which they sent out last week, that gave tips on staying hydrated, being a good bystander, and interacting with law enforcement.
“I’ve attended Frolics before, so it’s been interesting to be in the background and on the other side of it,” said recently-elected SGA President Itziri Gonzalez-Barcenas ‘19. “I wanted to have a short tip guide rather than a long email. We especially wanted to advise first-year students.”
Gonzalez-Barcenas spent a semester studying outside of Davidson and said that when she came back, attitudes towards drinking on campus had shifted. This was not just about Frolics, but also about broader concerns surrounding alcohol culture, noise complaints, and dangerous behavior that had been building throughout the year. Gonzalez-Barcenas said that because of this, she was not sure what to expect when working with authorities.
“I knew that I would have conversations with different administrators. I was pleasantly surprised with how supportive they were. They want to give students agency, but they’re worried about certain things,” she said.
Campus Police Chief Todd Sigler said that in order to ensure that students have a safe experience during Frolics, he takes visitation rules and state drinking laws seriously.
“I think sometimes there’s a feeling among students that the rules are different during Frolics, and I think that’s a misconception,” he said. “We want students to take responsibility for their actions and for following the laws.”
Another notable difference this year was the presence of Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) on campus. These officers dressed in normal attire to blend in, and were authorized to reprimand students who they thought were participating in dangerous behavior.
According to Sigler, ALE is just an additional layer of protection to ensure that students stay safe on Patterson Court. They play a similar role to Campus Police, performing many of the same functions, but operate as a separate, statewide agency.
“There is some anxiety surrounding ALE, but I hope people go in with the mindset that they can have fun,” said Union Board President-Elect Anna Ferdinand ‘19 at the outset of Frolics. “I hope we provide a space where people can let go of stress.”
A separate Union Board committee was in charge of planning this year’s Spring Concert, which took place on Friday night in the Stowe parking lot. According to Concert Committee Chair Rostan McBryde ‘18, the committee began to consider Moon Taxi for the gig after getting positive feedback about the band Oak and Ash, who played at Winterfest.
“Moon Taxi was always in the running and did well in the campus survey,” said McBryde.
“Moon Taxi is a band that’s really good live,” said Andrew Fay ‘19. “I think as far as concerts go it was a great act to fit in with the Woodstock theme that Union Board was going for. People recognized their songs, and those who didn’t could still have a good time.”
Hess stressed that for events like the concert that were put on by Union Board, drinking was not a prerequisite.
“Union Board plays a role in campus drinking culture whether we want to or not,” Hess said. “We can’t control individual actions, we can only control what we do. I don’t know what the solution is to fixing drinking culture. It’s tough to put so much pressure on fixing it for this weekend when it should be looked at more laterally.”
Sigler, like the student leaders behind Frolics, knows that the weekend can be a smooth, enjoyable time if students take responsibility for their own safety. He reported that there were significantly less calls for medical assistance than last year.
“There’s a lot of positive energy that goes into providing a fun time, and I know that students will appreciate that,” he said. “[Students] want to make it memorable, but to me, the memorable part of the event would be to remember the event.”