Music is powerful. It can heal. It can start revolutions. At Wheaton College, it can bring Public Safety.
A cappella performances in Slype are a much-loved tradition here. Students gather in the archway to hear the groups’ new members make their singing debuts. However, this past Friday, Public Safety broke up the Slype, making performers move to the Everett Courtyard. Many students expressed disappointment with Public Safety’s interference.
“The Gentlemen Callers are one of Wheaton’s most integral groups and have a 25-year-old tradition of bringing a special kind of excitement and joy through our music and performances. These traditions, epitomized in our jams and particularly at Slype Night, have been increasingly disrespected and slighted by Public Safety,” said President Jay Mimes ’15.
Members of other a cappella groups expressed similar sentiments. Lauren Hirata ’16 of Voices United to Jam said, “I did think it was interesting that Slype was shut down because it is a biannual event at Wheaton and it is a well-known event. I was disappointed that we were unable to finish our set list and it makes me nervous for future Slype performances, and whether or not they will be shut down as well.”
Public Safety’s decision to interfere at Slype reignited many debates students had last semester about their role on campus.
“We don’t have that much to do here on the weekends and the a cappella groups are a pretty large part of the nighttime entertainment and atmosphere here. It has been this way for years, and yet this school year Public Safety has seemingly been doing a better job at pursuing and punishing us than actually protecting us. We are quite literally just trying to have fun,” Mimes said.
According to Joey Campbell ’14, Student Government Association President, Public Safety acted to keep the Norton Police Department from intervening. Campbell said that intervention on the part of Norton PD would have been worse for students.
“Slype, a time honored tradition, was broken up simply because of the large amount of people that gathered there. The noise ordinance that Norton now has and the fact that people were blocking Howard Street,” he said. Howard Street presents an interesting dilemma, as Wheaton College and Norton share ownership of it.
VUJ was permitted to continue singing once they moved out of Slype and into the courtyard. However, in an attempt to make the students move, some Public Safety officers shined flashlights in the students’ faces, which some crowd members found excessive.
Campbell does not believe that that the Slype tradition is in danger. He said that the Public Safety officer he spoke to afterwards was upset to have to break up the ceremony.
“Slype can be maintained to its fullest capacity by just putting in an event form so the college is aware of it. That allows the proper personnel and staff to be on site for the event and should Norton Police try to intervene, there will be a much smaller chance of it getting broken up,” Campbell said.