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Saint Mary’s Residence Hall Association introduces Navy Ball waiver outlining code of conduct

| Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Tickets for this year’s Navy Ball, scheduled for Nov. 15, went on sale in the Saint Mary’s Student Center on Tuesday. In an Oct. 11 email, the Residence Hall Student Association (RHA) announced it would not be hosting the annual fall formal, and will instead be collaborating with Student Government Association (SGA) to host the Navy Ball.

The Navy Ball, a long-standing tradition born out of the rivalry between the Notre Dame and Navy football teams, brings Saint Mary’s students and Midshipmen together for a night of dancing after each game and is historically hosted by SGA, senior Grace Kelly, president of RHA, said.

“It was a little bit of a new project for RHA to take on, but we’re really excited about it,” Kelly said.

As the Navy Ball is normally hosted by SGA, Kelly said RHA had to adjust to juggling the schedules of two executive student boards in planning the function.

“We had to start meeting with [SGA], in addition to meeting with our own RHA executives, and [have] our formal committee meet as well,” Kelly said. “So a lot more meetings started happening. A lot of text messages like ‘OK, can you meet this day? Can you meet that day? Something’s come up that we need to discuss to make sure that we’re on top of everything.’ So just a lot of meetings and collaboration.”

Kelly said the groups worked closely with director of residence life Ariel Leary, dean of students Gloria Jenkins and representatives from the Office of Student Involvement.

Jenkins was not available for comment.

This year’s Navy Ball features several new changes, Kelly said, including an increased number of tickets available to both Saint Mary’s students, their guests and Navy Midshipmen.

“We have 150 [tickets] set aside for the Midshipmen,” Kelly said. “I’m not entirely sure how many are coming. We have a contact with the Naval Academy, and we’re trying to figure out exactly how many of them are going to be coming. Obviously, they’re not going to be the football team that’s coming because they’re not going to be allowed to go out the night before the game.”

After reevaluating the fire capacity for the event venue, RHA found it could host a greater crowd than in previous years, and moved to offer an increased number of tickets to the student body, Kelly said.

“For Saint Mary’s students – I don’t have the exact number – but in the past, we’ve been able to have about 750 people for formal and it’s going to be at the Hilton Garden Inn,” Kelly said. “We reevaluated … and we have about at least 800 or 900 tickets for Saint Mary’s students.”

Freshman Emily Bennett, who bought her Navy Ball ticket Tuesday, said she is glad the College is opening up the Navy Ball to more students.

“I think it’s a good thing,” Bennett said. “So everyone can go instead of just like a certain group of people. It’s more open. And now I don’t really have to worry about not being able to go with my friends.”

Kelly also said RHA is increasing security presence at this year’s Navy Ball, as well as adding more chaperones.

“We are beefing it up a bit,” she said. “This year, we’re hiring more security. We’ve had students work in the past, and if another student is doing something that’s against the rules of formal, it’s not exactly fair to [the student workers] to be like, ‘Hey, you need to go talk to your peer and be like you can’t do that.’ So in addition to having chaperones, we’ve hired more security guards to just try and make it a safe event for everybody. And that way, everybody gets to have a really fun time.”

The other big change being made to the Navy Ball is the waiver students are required to sign before registering for and attending the event, Kelly said. This waiver outlines the behavioral expectations of students who attend the dance, and will inform future formal decisions made by RHA and the Saint Mary’s administration, she said.

“In the past, students haven’t been exactly clear on how the College wants to portray the rules or anything like that,” Kelly said. “So the waiver this year for us was a way to really get our point across to students that this is what the college expects of us. … We’re reevaluating formal, seeing how it should be changed to make it a better event for students.”

Saint Mary’s students will be held accountable for the actions of any guests they bring to the Navy Ball, Kelly said, and all in attendance will be expected to act responsibly and maturely.

“We’ve had guests in the past who have been acting immaturely,” Kelly said. “And so part of the thing with the waiver is that we are telling students you can’t control your date’s actions, but you are going to be held responsible if they do somehow cause damage to the venue or if they cause a big ruckus or something like that. So because you are bringing them and they are your guests, you are responsible for how they act.”

The conduct of students attending this year’s Navy Ball will influence how Saint Mary’s will host formals in the future, Kelly said.

“If students are very receptive to the waiver, and they just behave very well, they’re mature, then that is great evidence for the school that ‘you know what, this was a positive change and we can move forward,’” Kelly said. “But depending on how this Navy Ball does happen, it definitely plays a role into how the administration wants to continue forward with formal and how they want it to happen in the future.”

Sophomore Sydney Hruskoci said she understands the need for a waiver outlining the rules of conduct, as more should be expected from college-aged students.

“I mean, it’s a formal,” Hruskoci said. “So I feel like you know, it’s kind of understandable. Yes, of course people need to have fun; but at the same time, they can’t be stupid. So I understand. I get it.”

Junior Elizabeth Day said she was a little surprised to learn that the usual fall formal would be replaced with this year’s Navy Ball.

“I’m a little upset,” Day said. “But I’m excited to be able to go to Navy formal.”

Day said she was never part of any misbehavior that may have prompted Saint Mary’s to reevaluate how it hosts its formals.

“I do think that it’s a little extreme that we have to sign a waiver just to go to a dance,” Day said. “But I get it.”

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About Maeve Filbin

Maeve is a senior studying political science and economics at Saint Mary's, as well as Journalism, Ethics and Democracy at Notre Dame. She serves as an Assistant Managing Editor of The Observer, and thinks everyone should support student journalism.

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