Two years after O’Reilly, SPG stays calm

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Security at this year’s Sex Power God was so strict that God himself – in fact Ben Struhl ’09 dressed in a sheet and a long white beard – was denied entry for not having valid identification.

Struhl said he snuck into the Queer Alliance party for the past two years “to make fun of people,” but this year he was turned away. “People take SPG way too seriously. It’s just a party, you know?” he said. “Why do people make such a big deal of it?”

But the increased security and safety measures, first introduced last year in response to the raucous 2005 dance, seemed to be a success. Only five students across campus required Emergency Medical Services attention Saturday night, said Margaret Klawunn, associate vice president for campus life and dean of student life. That number is down from 14 last year and 24 in 2005.

“We received compliments from EMS saying that Sex Power God went better than they’d ever seen it,” said event co-coordinator Katie Lamb ’10.

The coordinators attributed the dance’s success to their experience with previous dances. At Sex Power God in 2005, two dozen students received emergency medical attention, and a producer from Fox News’s “The O’Reilly Factor” who attended the event later aired footage from the dance on national television. New safety and security measures were enacted for last year’s dance and continued this year.

These measures included an EMS room to quickly assist intoxicated students and the hiring of an outside security firm, Green Horn Management, to guard the entrances.

The party was well-received by students waiting in line to get in, many of whom said Sex Power God is an attractive event because of its reputation.

“It’s one of those emblematic Brown things,” said Andrew Ahn ’08. “I’m going to go in, hang out for five minutes, then go.”

As a senior who had never before attended Sex Power God, Ahn said he felt he couldn’t miss his last chance to experience the party.

Other students said SPG’s reputation drew them to the party. Susanne Evarts ’11, who describes herself as a “mass enthusiast on nudity in comfortable places,” told The Herald that she had “layered intentionally” so she could later take her clothes off.

The draw of a safe space to experiment was also attractive to students. “I paid $15, I really want to find out something new,” Evarts said.

This year, a group of students who described themselves as “a mix of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance and West House” stood outside the dance with positively themed signs. They said it was a response to a protest of the dance last year, when a group of men stood outside the dance with signs that “rated” women.

“They were holding signs that said things like ‘take it off’ or ‘put it on,’ and it felt like they were really judging people who wanted to come by,” said post- columnist Amy Littlefield, ’10, who held a sign reading, “You all look great.”

“We wanted to come out here with a totally positive message and really affirm people and say, ‘Congratulations for having the confidence to do something like

this,’ ” she said.

The group had no collective reason for not attending the dance themselves, Littlefield said. They were asked by security to leave for “making a ruckus,” though last year’s hecklers were allowed to stay, she noted.

“It was really cute and definitely totally appreciated,” Lamb said of the demonstration. “But we can’t have a policy that allows certain people to stand in front of the line and not others.”

Lamb and co-coordinator Robin Peckham ’10 said a few students tried to sneak into the party, but they said this year’s event management was better than in past years.

Klawunn said there will be a meeting between officials from the Office of Student Life and EMS and SPG student organizers to review the dance and “see if anything needs to be changed.”

For Lamb, who started planning the dance with Peckham last semester, “it was really amazing that it did go really well.”

“The most amazing moment was when the doors closed, and everyone was in there,” Peckham said. “I was up on the speakers looking down on everybody, and it was so many people having so much fun.”