So it isn't a big surprise or a big deal that somebody got slashed at the Den on Thu., Feb 7. At least according to Campus Security and the Students' Union it isn't. However, we feel-and Calgary Police Services seem to agree-that the incident could have been much worse. We must treat it as such.
Feb. 7, Brandon Morrison was on the upstairs dance floor of the Black Lounge, hamming it up with friends. Maybe he rubbed some guy the wrong way, but before Morrison knew what happened, a non-student assailant had kicked him.
As he turned to see who it was, another non-student attacker tossed beer in his face, hit him with a backhand fist and then slashed at Morrison's neck with a four-inch blade.
Fortunately, Morrison, who is also not a University of Calgary student, was pulling back and the dull knife only superficially cut his neck-but it was still his neck. Den staff promptly restrained the attacker as he tried to escape and kudos to them for locking down the situation so quickly. They can't really be blamed for the knife's presence in the bar.
So, what's wrong with this situation?
First of all, violence does not befit a university in any way, shape or form. It is completely disgusting to hear about incidents like this and previous assaults where Campus Security officers were directly attacked by Den-going patrons. But the theme in all these attacks is that they have, on the majority, come from non-students.
You see, people nowadays look at the Den much differently than they did before. The SU wanted to improve the bar for students and it seems they failed to see what would happen. People from all over the city now ask whether they should head to the Palace, Cowboys, or the Den on any given Thursday. With no cover charge, a mostly cool crowd of young students and cheap drinks, the Den now attracts its fair share of non-students. As the only major club in northwest Calgary and with a capacity of 740 people, security demands have increased since the Den's reopening.
And now we have a slashing. A slashing that could have been a stabbing. And a stabbing that could have been a homicide. It could have been a knife in the gut, or maybe even a kidney. Maybe all of these possibilities will come true one day. Given the events of that night, it certainly seems more likely now than it did before.
So why are we taking so long to do anything about it?
It's time to lock down the Den from non-students. Counts collected by the SU at the door have discovered that approximately 60 per cent of Den-goers are U of C students, 20 per cent are other post-secondary students and 20 per cent are non-students. A mandatory student ID policy should be implemented, much to the chagrin of the latter 20 per cent, who are the source of almost all the violent assaults since the Den opened.
University students are accountable, as any violence they perpetuate can be punished with non-academic misconduct and they can be expelled from the university. Non-students don't even pay SU fees. If anything worse happens at the Den the fun will be ruined for all.
The SU must act quickly, whether it be card readers or cover charges for non-students. Deterrents to the non-students must be put in place as soon as possible. Non-students had their chance. The Den is a privilege for U of C students and it should remain that way.