Spring Formal: Venue Choice Too Close to Tragedy

April 16, 2019

Another spring formal has come and gone. This year’s theme was “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and our Associated Students of California University Programs Board decorated the Los Robles Greens to feel magical.

But down the street was the location that changed Thousand Oaks forever, and the student body had little to no say in if this was an appropriate location to host an event like this.

ASCLUG should have informed students of the location far in advance. They should have clearly expressed our opportunity to be a part of the decision, because this is such a sensitive subject in our community.

Lauren Garrett, who is a Borderline survivor, said she was not offended nor did she have to contemplate her attendance at the formal.

“It didn’t make me think twice in terms of like, whether or not my comfort level would be affected because I still go back to [Borderline],” Garrett said. “[Fellow survivors] are all frequents. So for me that place is very calm and doesn’t carry any weird fear for me.”

She said survivors have a different outlook on the event and its location. Garrett said that the general student population “could have benefitted from knowing” earlier as those who were not at Borderline might feel more uncomfortable with the location.

There are many ways individuals cope with something as traumatizing as this, including “confrontative coping, distancing and escape/avoidance,” according to Shelley Taylor from the Psychosocial Working Group at the University of California, San Francisco. Students who were not there the night of Borderline may feel guilty for feeling anything at all. Victims and community members might suppress their feelings about the shooting, and distance themselves from the location and the thought of it.

I understand why the location was chosen for formal, because Thousand Oaks is not a big city.   

The issue is ultimately how Programs Board shared this information with the student body. Programs Board Director Heather Hooker said Programs Board likes to build up energy by waiting until a few weeks before the event to “drop” certain details such as the location to the student body.

But this year is different, because these past few months have been different. ASCLUG representatives should have taken that into consideration, especially considering the location.

Hooker said contracts with Los Robles Greens were being finalized in January. Yet they told the majority of the student body via Instagram on March 4, just one month before the formal on April 5.

Programs Board gave students some opportunity to voice their concerns. Hooker said that public comments are welcome and meetings are open throughout the year for students to attend.

But how can students make comments on things they haven’t heard about?

No student is going to Student Affairs and demanding to see contracts and receipts of the venue for spring formal. No student should have to. ASCLUG representatives are here to serve the student population. They are supposed to be the voice of the students, representing us. They should be keeping us in the loop, not in the dark.

With this dance, they gave us little to no opportunity for dialogue.

A press release came out April 1, four days before the formal acknowledging “the proximity to the Borderline Bar and Grill.” It went on to state, “We as ASCLUG encourage all students to attend (or not attend) to the extent that they are able to.”

The money that pays for events like formal comes out of student fees. So, no matter where the event is, it should be in a location where all students are comfortable going.

The Echo staff wrote an editorial in March calling for transparency from ASCLUG, and a month later I’m writing on the same problem. It seems to be a cycle with our student government, doesn’t it?

Lindsey Potter
Reporter

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