On Tuesday, well-known comedian and actor Kevin Hart (Scary Movie 3 and 4) came to Rider as Student Entertainment Council (SEC)’s spring act. Ever since the comedian was announced, students were excited to attend his performance and hear his honest comedy. Students began congregating outside the Yvonne Theater as early as 8 p.m., for a performance set to start at 10 p.m. But for many of those waiting eagerly to get seats, the theater had already reached capacity, leaving them to find something else to do with their night.
Once it was announced that the theater had reached its limit of 442 people, SEC said that no more students would be allowed in. Most of those waiting in line did not move, hoping that the decision would be reversed, and Public Safety soon had to be called. After the truth set in, students began to leave the building, but not without causing a small ruckus. Some began chanting insults at the two guys manning the door. Many asked to be able to sit in the aisles, but were not allowed to because of fire safety reasons. When students finally did begin to move away, a large number could be seen going up to the next floor of Fine Arts to try to enter through the upstairs theater door.
This level of chaos from students should never have been reached. While being denied admission to a highly anticipated show is bound to cause tension, SEC should have taken control of the situation by blocking the extra doors and not letting students get so close to the entrance, only to be rejected.
This all could have been avoided if SEC had distributed tickets for the event. We understand that because of fire safety regulations, the number of people allowed in the theater should not go over the number permitted. SEC deserves praise for not backing down and allowing extra people in just to keep them happy, and trying to keep everyone safe in case of emergency.
However, if SEC was so worried about fire hazards, then someone should have looked outside of the Yvonne Theater. The mass of people in the atrium of Fine Arts was a clear hazard. Because the doors in the front of the building were all unlocked, students took it upon themselves to cut in front of people who had already been waiting in line for more than an hour. So many people jumped the line, turning the once straight and single-file line into a thick crowd. It doesn’t matter how many members of SEC were working the event; at least one or two people should have been spared to prevent the crowd from getting unruly because of line-cutters and to allow those who had been waiting a fair shot at getting a seat.
What is perhaps the worst thing about this is that Kevin Hart took the place of Rider’s spring concert. If this was supposed to be the great, final act of the year, why wouldn’t SEC want to have as many people allowed in as possible? Usually, spring concerts are held in the SRC gym courts, and this space holds about a 1,000 people. Why change the venue? The school has the ability to set up chairs for people to sit on. They have done it for Admitted Student Day, why not for a comedian who is sure to have a huge turnout?
For anyone who remembers the cancelation of the Plain White T’s last spring, not getting in to see Kevin Hart was another disappointment. The Plain White T’s were to play for Rider as the headliners of the spring concert. But, less than a half-hour before the show, the lead singer claimed he could not sing, and the band did not perform. This fall, Sean Kingston, while at least famous, was not someone that a large portion of the campus would have picked to perform. And now we have Kevin Hart’s performance. Yes, he was very funny, but it was just disappointing that so many people were denied entrance and that a riot nearly started, causing Public Safety to be called.
Hopefully, for future events, SEC will correctly estimate the draw that a performer will have, and pick a more appropriate venue for the crowd that is sure to appear. SEC got the performer right. Now we just have to work on handling the crowd and keeping everything in order.
This weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News editorial board and is written by the Opinion Editor, Angelique Lee.