Behind the disarray of the Homecoming Dance’s entrance wait times.
Flashing lights, loud music, meeting friends, dancing, and making memories; all part of the appeal of the Homecoming dance, but was any of this worth the nearly ninety-minute-long line some students waited through on October 22?
According to an email blast sent by Activities Director, Mr. Tony Anderson, “Last year, [American] had 600 less students at the Homecoming Dance, and some students waited over an hour and a half to get in.” This year’s dance yielded wait times similarly long, yet when students pulled into the lot, only one of five entrances to the rotunda was open. Fifty to a hundred students at a time were bottlenecked at the front of the 300 wing. This debacle begs the question: Why was the entrance flow handled this way by event staff and administration, and how will next year be different?
Homecoming Reagle nominee Naomi Tchao (12) commented, “[It] definitely wasn’t COVID safe, nor was it safe from [becoming] a mob. I was really worried about being squished or accidentally squishing someone else, especially in heels.”
Tchao waited approximately an hour, she still had thoughts on how entry could be improved, continuing on to say, “We should know that there is only one entrance beforehand…if there was some sort of feedback form that would be nice, [this] way they can keep anything that happened in mind and still stay connected to their ‘customers’ who are ultimately there to enjoy the experience.”
Christopher Gomez, another Homecoming Reagle nominee, had a different experience, stating, “I was probably in line for 15-20 minutes, among the last people to enter.” Despite experiencing a shorter wait time, Gomez had similar criticisms of the dance, remarking, “Everything Homecoming related this year was extremely late. We didn’t get details about the [Homecoming] lunch rally until a few days before. In the future, it would be helpful to have information much earlier.”
In response to these concerns, Mr. Anderson replied, “[Multiple entrances] is something we could consider. The speed of people getting in would be unaffected, but it could prevent crowding or mobs. Ideally, we would have a couple of line leaders. We were understaffed that day, though.”
He adds, “Most of the information was sent out weeks before. We were trying to do whatever we could to get people in faster so they could spend more time inside versus in the line.”
Mr. Anderson mentioned other aspects of this year’s dance, saying, “Patting people down usually is what takes up a big chunk of the time. We tried to remedy the wait times from last year by starting check-ins at 6:30, which increased flow, and we definitely got them in faster than last year.”
He also notes, “One of the administrators was absent, so we were unable to increase speed and entrances there because not even our SRO campus cop could pat people down. All we can use is the administrators, so unless we could get someone from another school to help us out or something, I don’t see how we could open more entrances.”
The layout of the line students were directed to take at Homecoming; the mouth of the 300 wing and the surrounding portables funneling them into a tight crowd. PC: Sahana Narayan (12)