Fall Ball Bigger Than Ever

Written by Naeem Crawford-Muhammad, Editor-in-Chief

Last Thursday, October 27, Fall Ball, the annual New York University School of Law student costume party, went off without a hitch, with more students attending than ever before. Held off-campus for the first time, over 1,300 law students and their guests made the trek to Terminal 5, a multi-level concert hall in Midtown Manhattan, filling two levels of the trendy venue to capacity, according to event organizer Marissa Prieto ‘18 of the Student Bar Association (SBA).

Sponsored by the SBA and the Office of Student Affairs, Fall Ball is generally the most widely-attended social gathering at NYU Law. Because of its popularity with students, planners were initially hesitant to move the event away from Law School facilities. However, with mounting concerns about liability and requested attendance outpacing available space, then-SBA Social Chairs, now SBA President and Vice President, Evan Shepherd ‘17 and Samantha Coxe ‘17 began exploring external options, eventually identifying Terminal 5 as a prospective location last spring.

Asked for his thoughts after the event, Shepherd said, “[Samantha and I] believe the event was a success! We first want to thank [SBA Social Chairs] Neesha and Marissa for all of their hard work planning and executing Fall Ball. There are kinks that will be ironed out, but that comes with hosting an event for the first time.”

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Following their election as social chairs in March, Neesha Chhina ‘18 and Marissa Prieto ’18 worked with Dean of Students Jason Belk and Assistant Director of Student Affairs Sarah Bowman to finalize the details, signing a contract with Terminal 5 earlier this fall. In an email to the Student Bar Association obtained by The Commentator, Belk praised the efforts of the SBA, calling Fall Ball “amazing” and saying how “incredibly proud” he was of the way the event was executed.

Said Belk, who attended Fall Ball along with Director of Student Affairs Israel Rodriguez, “From what I gathered, students enjoyed themselves and appreciated the enormous amount of time and thought [the SBA] put in to the event.”

To expand on this year’s success with students at the helm, the SBA has plans to create a social committee to work with the social chairs to improve upon the event and incorporate more student input.

“I think the venue was the biggest highlight for sure. The atmosphere was way more of a party than when it was in [Vanderbilt Hall]. I also think one of the highlights was the fact that people were able to bring more guests, and the event didn’t feel supervised by NYU administrators/staff. We’re also really proud of the fact that our event was safe and had no major mishaps. Thankfully everyone was able to have a good time and do so safely,” said Chhina.

 

Editor’s note: Naeem Crawford-Muhammad is the current Law School student senator and a member of the Student Bar Association.

Fall Ball Policy Memo Confirms More Changes Than Just Venue

Written by Gianna Walton, Managing Editor

Last week, the Student Bar Association (SBA) and the Office of Student Affairs announced several additional changes to the Fall Ball Policy Memo for this year, in addition to moving the event to an off-campus venue. As previously reported, SBA revealed last spring that Fall Ball 2016 would be held off-campus at Terminal 5, a concert venue in Hell’s Kitchen, instead of its traditional location in Vanderbilt Hall.

Though tickets for Fall Ball will still be free this year, drink tickets are now limited to two per student. Drink tickets are first-come, first-serve and will not be provided to guests. Terminal 5 will also have a full cash bar for those who wish to purchase additional beverages. Last year, attendees received a maximum of five drink tickets each.

In addition, students are now free to bring up to two guests each. In past years, Student Affairs utilized a Guest Lottery in which students wishing to bring a significant other to the event could enter to win one of 200 guest tickets available.

The event will also start several hours later than in past years, beginning at 10:00 p.m. and running until 2:00 p.m. Last year’s event was held from 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

In an email statement, Neesha Chhina and Marissa Prieto, SBA Social Chairs, on behalf of the SBA, said that the decision to move Fall Ball off-campus had been contemplated for a long time and was made jointly by SBA and Student Affairs.

“For liability purposes, Student Affairs began slowly imposing additional limitations on Fall Ball, such as limiting the amount of alcohol they would purchase, instituting a guest policy, and implementing drink tickets in order to limit how much any one person could drink,” said Chhina and Prieto. “Over time, students wanted more control over the event (decorations, start and finish times, etc.), and the only way to receive that was to move the event off campus.”

Jason Belk, Dean of Students, said in an email that the change in location was also driven by space limitations of the Law School.

“In recent years, the number of people wishing to attend the Fall Ball has grown significantly, and by moving it to an offsite venue, we no longer have the capacity constraints that we faced with Greenberg Lounge,” Dean Belk said.

The budget for this year’s Fall Ball is the same as last year’s budget, according to Dean Belk.

Chhina and Prieto said that SBA’s control over the event is one of the primary benefits of having Fall Ball off-campus.

“When the event was on campus, it was run by Student Affairs alone, and there was limited [to] no input from the SBA,” they said. “That means that this year, we were able to prioritize how we thought students would best want the funds allocated when it came to food, drink, DJ, decorations, etc.”

One such example is the decision to offer specialty cocktails. Drink tickets will not cover the specialty cocktails, but the price was negotiated with Terminal 5 from $10.00 down to $7.00, according to Chhina and Prieto. Other prices, including the $4.00 coat check, are at Terminal 5’s discretion, they said.

Chhina and Prieto also emphasized that even though students may be used to receiving five drink tickets in past years, the amount of available alcohol has always been limited. Given budget constraints, they said, “it is not possible to simply pay for what we would like to consume and then distribute an unlimited amount of drink tickets. . . .”

“We cannot guarantee that every single student will get 2 tickets, but we will have a system in place to ensure that no one receives more than 2 in order to evenly distribute them as best as possible,” they said.

Also evident from the Policy Memo is that transportation from campus to the event will not be provided for students. Last year, SBA stated that it planned to try to arrange busing from campus to Terminal 5, which is located about 30 minutes away from the Law School campus by subway or car.

After looking into the costs of using NYU’s shuttles and alternatives such as ride-sharing services, however, SBA ultimately determined that providing transportation was not within its budget.

“[I]n the end, we decided that it was not possible or necessary seeing that transportation has never been provided for a Fall Ball or weekly Bar Review in the past,” Chhina and Prieto stated. “[W]e determined that it would not be prudent to spend student funds on an expense that we deemed as non-essential to the event.”

In addition to the main event being moved off-campus, students may also be unable to find places on campus to celebrate before the event due to the closing of the journal offices in the basement of D’Agostino Hall and various other common areas in D’Agostino Hall and Hayden Hall. Those areas were also closed off to students before last year’s Fall Ball.

“We will be closing journal offices and common areas in residence halls in advance of Fall Ball to avoid the extra cleaning costs The Law School has faced in the past,” Dean Belk said.

Heather Garvey, 3L, said that she appreciated the change in guest policy and thought it was nice for people who wish to bring significant others. At the same time, she said, it seemed strange that guests would not be provided drink tickets.

She also worries that the off-campus venue might make Fall Ball less relaxed and more similar to Spring Fling, which was held last March at Union Square Ballroom.

“It seems like the budget went towards having a venue as opposed to the experience,” she said.

UPDATE: According to an email sent by Dean Belk to the journal Editors-in-Chief on Tuesday afternoon, journals may in fact hold pre-Fall Ball gatherings in the journal offices in D’Agostino Hall before 10 p.m. on Thursday. The basement of D’Agostino will be closed from 10 p.m. on Thursday until 7 a.m. on Friday morning. Alcohol is not permitted in the common area of the basement of D’Agostino, but may be served in individual journal offices. The journal offices in Wilf Hall, however, will be closed beginning at 6 p.m. on Thursday. 

What do you think of the new Fall Ball venue and changes to the event policies? Send us your comments at law.commentator@nyu.edu.

SBA: Fall Ball to Be Moved Off-Campus

by Cristina Stiller, News Editor | Photo Credit: NYU Law Magazine

The Student Bar Association (SBA) has confirmed that this year’s Fall Ball will take place off of the New York University School of Law’s campus in October 2016. Although Fall Ball has historically been hosted in Vanderbilt Hall by the Office of Student Affairs, the SBA is in the process of reserving Terminal 5 for the event, according to an emailed statement from Evan Shepherd, SBA Social Chair.

 

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Terminal 5 during a music concert. | Photo Credit: Tailbus.com

 

Located in Hell’s Kitchen, Terminal 5 is a large, music venue, which features five separate rooms and can accommodate up to 3,000 people, according to Gothamist.

Taking Fall Ball off-campus will likely mean significant changes for the event. For one, the off-campus move will mean local students will have to travel to 56th Street and 11th Avenue in Midtown to access the location. Currently, the SBA plans to arrange busing for students from campus to Terminal 5 on the night of the event.

Second-year law student Mark Sanchez ‘17, noted that while moving the event off-campus could potentially make it more enjoyable, losing the convenience of the Law School’s location was a disappointment. “While I would rather the event stay in the Law School and return to being open to all guests, if Fall Ball means having the side stairs blocked off and the building’s fluorescent lights turned on all night, perhaps moving the event to a location that was meant to host events like these is a good call.”

Perhaps the most sweeping change to previous years’ Fall Ball policies will be the likely relaxing of the current guest policy, according to the SBA. Fall Ball’s current guest policy limits the total number of guests admitted to Fall Ball to 200 guests total. Law students are required to enter into a lottery for the opportunity to bring a guest and lottery winners are limited to one non-transferable guest ticket.

While Mr. Shepherd noted that the guest policy will likely become more lenient, he posited that the Law School might impose a limit of up to three guests per student in order to ensure the event remains geared primarily toward to the Law School community.

The current Fall Ball guest policy was the result of several years of controversy surrounding the Law School’s annual party. In 2007, then-Assistant Dean of Students Yvette Bravo-Weber sent a memo to law students outlining changes to that year’s Spring Fling, the Spring-semester counterpart of Fall Ball.

The policy, which required all NYU Law students and their guests to present valid government-issued identification verifying their age in order to be granted admission to that year’s Spring Fling, emerged from several incidents that occurred during Fall Ball in 2006 and Spring Fling that previous semester. According to reporting from The Commentator and Above the Law, incidents back in 2007 included two student hospitalizations, property damage in Greenberg Lounge, several students becoming ill on campus and in campus housing, and the consumption of alcohol by underage guests.

In 2014, after again citing fire code restrictions, NYU Law School amended their Fall Ball policy to further limit guests. This led the Office of Student Affairs to create the current lottery system.