Remember how spring formal wasn’t actually supposed to happen this year? Well it did, and it ruffled some feathers. This year the event was criticized by students because of the location’s proximity to the Borderline Bar & Grill where 12 people were killed in a mass shooting last November.
While it’s appropriate to feel angered or hurt, one should also remember that there are other factors at play here and the location was chosen for numerous valid reasons.
To start, the Associated Students of California Lutheran University Programs Board had to find a venue within their budget and accessible, all in a short amount of time. Because of the decision to re-vote on whether to have a spring formal or spring carnival, the time for pre-planning was severely limited.
“We [Programs Board] usually have a year in advance just to choose the location…but we didn’t have that this year,” Programs Board Director Heather Hooker said. “We were working with a list of three or four venues. It has to be booked, contract-wise, in December, so we had about a month to put that in.”
Some venues won’t allow more than 1,000 people, so students should recognize that they picked the best choice to please the majority of students. According to Hooker, the Los Robles Greens location was $20,000 and was the cheapest venue of their options. Because of this, students got to enjoy more attractions, such as a fortune teller, photo booth, magician, caricature artist and Dippin’ Dots.
Hooker also stressed the fact that Programs Board put in a lot of effort to transform the location to be more immersive and whimsical to fit the “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” theme. Most of us can agree that they did a great job with the decorations, attractions and venue.
Some may have had a problem with the way that Programs Board announced the location and the timing, but it was all part of their marketing plan. Hooker said the aim was to build hype around spring formal and a part of this is their location drop. The way that Programs Board went about this was well thought-out to avoid being offensive to those affected by Borderline.
Lauren Garrett, Borderline survivor, said that the location didn’t personally affect her, and she admits that she felt the issue was dramatized since she hadn’t heard any complaints from other California Lutheran University students or survivors.
“Being a survivor, Borderline is a significant location to me. It didn’t make me think twice in terms of whether my comfort level would be affected by being so close. For me, that place is home and going back there doesn’t bring any fear to me,” Garrett said.
Programs Board recognized the concern about the location, and to avoid stepping on toes, various precautions were taken. For example, Hooker reached out to Counseling and Psychological Services and the head of Student Affairs to get insight on how to address the issue. Before ASCLUG put out their press release about the dance location and its proximity to Borderline, CAPS reviewed it to avoid anything that could be possibly insensitive, triggering or inaccurate.
In a Harvard Health newsletter, Dr. Michael Craig Miller wrote that everyone grieves differently and the time needed to grieve may depend on the closeness of attachment one had to the deceased.
“Usually the raw, all-consuming shock of early grief will ebb slowly within weeks or months. Gradually, at their own pace, most people do find themselves adjusting to the loss and slipping back into the routines of daily life,” Miller wrote.
To the people who feel affected by the location choice, your feelings are valid and you have every right to feel the way you do. But, it’s important to remember that there was zero intention to cause offense to anyone. It’s very easy to paint someone as the villain and place all the blame on them, but that narrative gets old since things aren’t ever as simple as they seem.
Just remember, at some point this year, Programs Board was considering having spring formal here on campus. Just imagine the outrage that would’ve caused!