At 11 p.m. on Friday night, the Wellesley campus was still full of light and laughter. It was Remix night––the biggest on-campus party of the year so far––and the campus was transformed into something completely different from its usual quiet ambience.
A line of students snaked around behind Lulu Chow Wang Campus Center, while the residence halls––each stocked with snacks in the common room––were full of students talking, laughing and enjoying each others’ presence. In a rare occurrence on campus, few were spending their evening studying.
This was the night of the return of Remix, the famous and infamous on-campus party, after two long years. The last Remix was held in fall 2015, when the current senior class were first-years. Back then, it was held in the parking garage underneath the Campus Center, and has acquired legendary status for younger students. First-years, sophomores and juniors here have never experienced Remix. In 2016, Remix was cancelled due to rain––the Schneider Board of Governors (SBOG), the College Government student group that organizes on-campus events such as Remix,had booked the Academic Quad and had no rain location booked.
In the fall of 2017, according to current Director of On Campus Affairs (DOOCA) Iletze Porras ’19, the administration did not offer SBOG a potential date for Remix until October, a time of year when, as Porras explained, the weather was too unreliable to host the party.
‘Weather-wise, October is very chilly, so why be outside?” Porras asked. This year, as DOOCA, she knew that one of her goals would be to bring Remix back to Wellesley.
“Remix was actually why I joined SBOG,” Porras said, regarding her experience with the party as a first-year. “I saw that SBOG was really connected, and I saw them very present at that Remix [in 2015]…I wanted to bring it back.”
Bringing it back, however, came with some challenges. “The Office of Student Involvement was really crucial in helping to be the middleman between higher administration and SBOG, which was really wonderful,” said Porras. But when SBOG was approved to host a campus party back in June, they were told they weren’t allowed to host a party named Remix. But to Porras, the name meant everything.
“That was truly my battle this summer because the name is truly everything,” she said. “Because, in all the town halls [this past year], Remix kept being brought up. It’s the name. If I had called this party something different, and it was the same thing, it would not have had the meaningfulness that the campus associated with having a Remix. Only the senior class had had it, and that meant the first-years sophomores, and juniors were just so curious.”
Finally, in July, SBOG was approved to host the first Remix in three years. This time, it would be held on Alumnae Lawn, with a strict capacity limit to make rain plans possible. Both SBOG and Sexual Assault Awareness for Everyone (SAAFE), the on-campus sexual assault prevention group, were put through hours of bystander intervention training to make sure that this time around, Remix would be as safe as possible.
“I heard stories, in past years, about men being a little bit rough on campus, and just kind of…taking up a lot of space,” said RA Esme Stribling-Hough, ’20. Stories circulated of men over the age of 30 using their old college IDs to get into the original Remix, and creating more safety concerns than the college was equipped to deal with. For the 2018 Remix, therefore, extra safety precautions were taken.
Many members of administration, including Stephanie Weiskopf, director of the office of student involvement, and Sheila Horton, dean of students, were present for the night. In addition, Porras worked closely with eight members of Wellesley campus police, additional hired security and an ambulance crew that was stationed on campus for the evening to make sure everyone was safe.
“Our responsibility was to be active bystanders…people who watch what’s going on, making sure no one’s getting hurt,” said SBOG member Serenity Harris ’21. “Before Iletze [Porras] was the DOOCA, I don’t think we ever collaborated with SAAFE, they would just kind of do things on their own, and they’d be there next to us…it’s good that we’re actually working with them, side by side, now.”
Residential staff, headed by new Director of Residential Life Helen Wang, also collaborated to make Remix possible again.At first, there was some confusion as to what RAs were expected to do, since this was a rare event on campus. Shafer Hall RA Esme Stribling-Hough ’20 said that, though they received conflicting instructions at first, in the end residential staff was able to help make the night good for everyone. “It was unclear coming in what we were expected to do. We ended up having, mostly, a free night,” she said.
“We set up the carb station, we did Nutella toast. So that was the biggest part of our job. The dorms did different things, like chips. So we facilitated that for about the first half hour, around 8:30, and then kind of let people go on their way. And then it was sort of at the end, just casually, if there were men in the halls as we were going to bed, we’d say ‘hey, the horizontal-vertical rule still applies.’ Making sure nobody was sick. It was low-key,” Stribling-Hough recalled.
In the end, Porras was able to work with administration and campus police to increase the capacity of Remix from 600 to 900 people. One ambulance was called, but considering that, according to Porras, the total number of attendees who cycled through Remix was 1,400, the overall safety of the party was remarkable.
Stribling-Hough sees the success of Remix as part of a greater trend in which students encourage more social life on campus, rather than forcing students to rely on the shuttle bus service into Boston for all of their social engagements, which can be financially prohibitive and difficult to navigate.
“Res Staff did a lot of work, and student leaders in general did a lot of work over training to try to get social life back on campus,” she said. “I think that Wellesley itself isn’t maybe prepared to handle as many parties, per se, but I would love to see more commonly-accepted small parties with alcohol for people who are over 21, or to have that be an expectation, rather than for people to feel like they were sneaking around.”
In addition, Stribling-Hough explained, many dorms are trying to create “spaces that can be considered truly recreational.” In Stribling-Hough’s dorm, Shafer Hall, they officially declared the only large common room in the building a social space. All dorms now have community engagement hours, too, in which residence staff members stay in the common room creating social space.
“We’ve done everything from cookie baking to just listening to music in the common space to just checking in,” Stribling-Hough said.
Porras sees SBOG as a force to promote that same social engagement on campus. “I think at Wellesley, we really preach to be inclusive but we’re not,” she said. “There are so many things that you have to apply for, that you have to audition for, that you have to submit an application for. It creates little pockets of exclusivity.” All-campus events like Remix can be a way of breaking that exclusivity, she said. “I think if Wellesley lets go of its exclusivity, we can all really have a better social life. And it’s all about––we throw this word “collaboration” around all the time, but what do we actually mean by it?”