By Talia Perrea
Intoxicated students dressed to the nines is not something you see every Saturday. But this Saturday, St. Michael’s College students will gather to celebrate their own version of the Kentucky Derby, at an event on the 300s field, called Derby Day. Instead of a horse race, Derby Day is a piggy back race.
Up until 2015, Derby Day was a relatively small campus event. A video from the 2014 race was posted on YouTube, making Derby Day at the college a destination hotspot for people outside of the campus, said Doug Babcock, the director of public safety. The video now has more than 8,500 views. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zBTmJwuwkM&t=204s)
Babcock said that last year, as more outsiders began arriving to join the festivities, Derby Day, the event began to spiral out of control. “They wouldn’t turn the music down at any point. The crowd got thicker and thicker. People kept climbing up onto the roofs of the buildings.”
“The crowd got more and more volatile, and they ended up throwing bottles and cans at the officers, and at the crews trying to help people when somebody got sick,” Babcock said.
In response, Public Safety called in three police agencies to help break up the crowd. Colchester, Winooski, and South Burlington police teamed up with Public Safety and several members of residence life, to form a line that marched across the 300s field and ultimately broke up the crowd.
In an attempt to put an end to the event, the school rescheduled finals to Saturday and Sunday, and took away the study day that had traditionally followed the final day of classes, said Jeff Vincent, coordinator of community standards & student conduct and assistant dean of students.
Not all students agree this is the correct solution to the problem. “It’s the one event that I think of, besides P-day where all of us can celebrate being together and doing something that’s fun and unique to St. Michael’s,” said Jake Myers, the student association president-elect.
“I mean taking away the study days isn’t going to stop people from celebrating Derby Day,” Myers said. “Taking away the study days is only hurting people who are truly even more focused on academics than others.”
Babcock said he has been working all year to build a relationship with the senior class, in hopes to prevent an incident like this again. “I would appreciate it if the students did actually want to work with us, and allow this to be a little bit more of a joint effort,” he said.
“We just want things to go well. Keep it Senior,” Vincent said, in reference to talk about moving Derby Day to senior week.
“That’s not the point of it. The whole point of Derby Day is that it’s on the day of the Kentucky Derby, and if you leave it to just one class it’s never going to be the same,” Myers said.