By Rachel Stengel
About 1,600 people from the Rider community enjoyed Midnight MAACness festivities last Friday night, but another 200 were left waiting in the cold.
For the second year in a row, students were turned away from one of Rider’s biggest traditions, Midnight MAACness, because of the huge turnout for the event. Last year, between 50 and 75 students were turned away.
“We do feel really badly about [turning students away],” Karin Torchia, associate director of Athletics, said.
“We knew the event would be popular. It is one of the most popular traditions on campus and, while we hate to turn anybody away, we didn’t want to violate any fire codes or possibly impede anyone’s safety in the gym,” she said.
MAACness celebrates the official start to basketball practice for both of the men’s and women’s teams.
Torchia attributes the rise in popularity of Midnight MAACness to increased student involvement.
“It just shows that there was an excitement about this particular event and hopefully those that got turned away, while it’s unfortunate and we didn’t want to have to do that, but with the fire code situation we obviously had no choice, but hopefully those people will say, ‘Hey you know what, this actually is a really popular event. I’ve got to get there early next year,’” she said.
Students who attended Pre-MAACness in the Student Recreation Center (SRC) were given wristbands that guaranteed entrance into MAACness after their IDs were swiped, according to Torchia. When they entered the gym, they simply showed their wristbands and IDs to expedite the process. The wristbands were advertised on the Facebook event page for Midnight MAACness, but not on the posters or in the email sent out to students. Freshman Linda Lawton was one of the students denied entrance to the event.
“Getting turned away from my first MAACness was not the best feeling in the world,” Lawton said. “It was going to be the first school activity that my friends and I were attending. All of my upperclassmen friends had been telling me the week before things like, ‘You have to go. It is so much fun. Don’t miss out.’ Now I have to wait a whole year to even attempt to go to another one, not even knowing if I will get into that one.”
Sophomore Melissa Cebula said she was also disappointed with this year’s MAACness.
“I personally think that MAACness was very unorganized,” Cebula said. “Students were denied entry after waiting outside for about an hour, which was very disappointing considering the amount of money students pay to attend the school.”
Torchia said that Rider will explore new ideas to address the fact that a large number of students were turned away from the event.
“There’s the thought of possibly ticketing [Midnight MAACness],” Torchia said. “From an athletics standpoint, we like the fact that there’s such a demand and a need for it. Again, like I said, we hate that anybody got turned away, but we’re trying to create a situation on campus and an atmosphere where ‘hey, you’ve got to get here early.’”
Cebula said that ticketing MAACness would be the best solution.
“I think a good approach to this problem would be to distribute tickets,” Cebula said. “Without a ticket, you cannot enter. This will guarantee student entry before arrival. I would not attend MAACness next year unless guaranteed entry.”
The new voucher system for T-shirts will most likely not continue next year, according to Torchia. Typically, the first 1,000 people receive T-shirts as they enter the gym. This year, vouchers were given to the first 1,000 to be redeemed at the close of the event. This system was developed in order to prevent students from going to an event just to receive a T-shirt, then leaving. But Torchia said the new system created congestion problems as students tried to exit the event.
Freshman Ashley Miller agrees that the voucher system created a chaotic environment after MAACness concluded.
“I got a shirt, but the voucher system definitely created a traffic flow problem,” Miller said. “It was difficult leaving MAACness.”
Despite the fact that students were turned away from the event and the problems with the T-shirt voucher system, Torchia believes that the event was a success.
“I think this was by far the most successful one that we’ve had just in terms of the way the program flowed smoothly, the preparation of getting ready for it and just the student engagement and involvement,” she said.
Torchia said that moving the Pre-MAACness festivities to the SRC from Daly’s was a positive change this year; it created more space for activities. She also said that tying the theme of MAACness into the performances was a success and Rider will strive to continue that tradition in the future.
Freshman Carrie Lettiere said she enjoyed how the galactic theme was integrated into the entire program.
“I thought that the dance team and the cheerleaders incorporating the space theme to their routines was incredible,” Lettiere said. “It was lively. It was entertaining.”
Torchia said that the Bronc was one of the highlights of MAACness.
“I think that the Bronc coming out in his astronaut costume and landing on the moon with a Rider flag was a great addition and something we’ll get back to with a theatrical kind of opening,” Torchia said. “It really was well received.”
Junior Tiffany Scerbo agrees that the Bronc’s opening was the highlight of MAACness.
“I really liked the theme this year,” Scerbo said. “The whole space thing worked out really well. The music was great. Everything went really smoothly.”