In Formal Planning, Students Budget for Security and Safety

{shortcode-edadf00fb113c85f665f969cf2ae8e15faeaf159}Students organizing on-campus formals are remembering to arrange for security in addition to other costs associated with the event, prompting concerns over expenses for some House Committees.

According to the Harvard University Police Department website, a patrol officer costs $57.30 per hour and party details cost $70.30 per hour. Rebecca J. Ramos ’17, a Cabot House Committee co-chair who helped plan Quad Formal, said paying for HUPD was a frustrating addition to the event budget.

“There would already be HUPD officers around the quad for example at that time, so it’s frustrating that a large percentage of our budget has to go to event logistics like that,” Ramos said.

HUPD spokesperson Steven G. Catalano said some events, such as formals, necessitate an increased police presence.

“HUPD officers are on duty 24/7, but certain events and activities on campus require an extra level of police coverage to provide adequate public safety,” he said.


Despite the cost and organizing required, logistics regarding security often are not formalized until later in the event planning process.

“We began planning [the formal] probably right after winter break,” Freshman Formal co-chair Jamie A. Hawkins ’19 said. “We began planning security probably only a couple of weeks ago.”

The student-run Crimson Emergency Medical Services staffs events for free. Safety and security measures vary depending on the event, but most are coordinated through the Office of Student Life.

The OSL requires student organizations to register events that meet any of the following criteria: an attendance of over 100 people, an admission fee, the serving of alcohol, a weekend night date, fundraising, the selling of goods, a setting in an outdoor venue, or the inclusion of a raffle. Exceptions are made for certain venues on campus where location-specific staff manage the logistics, for example Sanders Theatre.

Since HUPD and CrimsonEMS only cover spaces on campus, the process for off-campus events is different, with students coordinating more with venue staff.

“The venue will drive what the security levels look like because it’s ultimately the responsibility of that venue to make sure that the event goes well,” Associate Dean of Student Life David R. Friedrich said.

For events that do take place on campus, Friedrich said completing the registration form three weeks prior to the event leaves an optimal amount of time to connect organizers to necessary resources, including CrimsonEMS and HUPD.

Friedrich added that safety and student well-being is the “utmost priority,” and that while the College has standard safety and security plans for regular on-campus events, coverage is often determined through constant communication with student organizers.

CrimsonEMS also looks at data from previous events before deciding on staffing levels for upcoming ones.

“We are a pretty data-driven organization so we have past event data that we look at whenever we staff an event,” CrimsonEMS Chief and an inactive Crimson editor Bryan L. Bu ’17 said. “For most events, we do communicate with the event staff and gauge their attendance and also the nature of the event.”

—Staff writer Beth Young can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @thebethyoung.


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