Students will have to find a way to smuggle their partners and best friends into Bermuda Shorts Day thanks to the University of Calgary's new no guests policy.
Students were dismayed to discover they could not bring their guests to this year's BSD, due to security concerns. The policy change was communicated through a one-line note on the BSD advertisement and on the Students' Union website Tue., Apr. 1.
The U of C decided to phase-out the number of guest wristbands since an incident at BSD four years ago, when people invited gang members to the beer garden. The gang members brought in drugs and weapons and harassed students. Since then, the university slowly reduced the number of guests over the four years, from 1,000, 500, 250 to zero guests for this year.
SU vice-president events Richard Freeman explained he is unhappy with the decision, but the SU must comply with it to keep BSD rolling because the university holds the liquor licence and therefore has the final word on guest admittance.
"I tried to convince officials that there is no way that 250 guests can cause problems, especially when they are from either Mount Royal or SAIT, but they stuck to the decision from four years ago," said Freeman. "There have been fewer security and safety issues every year since then."
Freeman explained he was in the dark about the policy until the liquor licence meetings a couple of weeks before the announcement.
"I did not know right away about the policy, because it is four years old and there has not been periodic updates on the phasing out," Freeman admitted.
"Let U of C students brings guests to BSD" Facebook group administrator Jeremy Sykes pointed out many students are genuinely upset with the no guest policy because of the disruptions to their plans.
"This would cause problems for students because they had friends booking off time from work, flying in from different parts of the country and all these people were truly excited about being a part of one of the greatest days of the year," said Sykes.
He noted the administration did a poor job on informing students about the policy.
"I had not heard anything prior to last week that we were no longer allowed to bring guests," he said. "I knew that the number of guests were going to be limited, but there was no information stating the change about zero guests."
Freeman noted the university is under pressure from the Alberta Liquor Board to keep security under control.
"The liquor board is scared of BSD because it is so big and has so much alcohol involved," he said.
Freeman urged students unhappy with the decision to e-mail him. He said he plans to collect the feedback and present it to the officials who control the liquor licence and hopefully re-open the negotiations on guest wristbands. He also shared a few nuggets of positive news.
"For this year, we are out of luck for guests, but we have managed to allow alumni to the event, and there are 1,000 more wristbands for U of C students who always wanted to go to BSD in the past, but could normally not," said Freeman.
Sykes noted that many students feel it is unfair that a gang incident four years ago ruined BSD for many students who want to bring friends from other schools.
"Yes, there are going to be people that bring unwanted guests to BSD, I understand that, but who is to say that people attending the university would not cause as much trouble?" asked Sykes.
Some students are split on the matter of bringing guests to BSD.
"We pay the tuition bucks and give the SU our money, so I see BSD as being a reward at the end of the year for students who worked hard, not just anyone," said second-year chemistry student Brent Piche.