Tent City is a wonderful and miserable experience for Gonzaga University’s dedicated basketball fans. While cheering on the men’s basketball team is a worthwhile experience for fans, sleeping outside to get good seats can have its drawbacks.
Nights spent in Tent City can be frigid and students who aren’t prepared can struggle with the temperature drop. Last Tuesday night, students tenting for the Thursday evening game against Brigham Young University withstood the coldest conditions Tent City has seen, or at least were prepared to.
Last week, as Tent City approached, Kennel Club Board member James Lumia said, “Parts of the Gonzaga administration were worried with the forecast at extremely low temperatures ... They were concerned for the welfare of the students.”
The administration and Kennel Club worked together to decide whether students participating in Tent City would sleep inside at night, or if the whole thing should be canceled.
Head of Campus Security, John VanSant, explained how the administration eventually decided on sending students indoors on Tuesday night.
“We have three key people that monitor conditions that might affect campus,” said VanSant.
A risk manager, security director and safety manager followed weather reports throughout the week and found that Tuesday night was supposed to be 15 degrees, versus a 27 degrees on Wednesday night.
VanSant said, “We know that it’s pretty reasonable that some students aren’t going to be prepared for that ... that’s putting students in pretty cold conditions.”
After weighing the benefits and drawbacks of keeping Tent City open for Tuesday night’s frigid forecast, Campus Security made the executive decision to tell students to sleep inside.
“When they told us we didn’t have to sleep in it (the tent), I bounced out of there as fast as I could,” said resident of tent 46, senior Michelle Cleary.
This announcement was made around 10 o’clock on Tuesday night. Lumia said the Kennel Club Board went around and informed students that security was going to be doing a sweep in a few hours to make sure that no one was sleeping outside.
Students were permitted to return to their tent duties at 7 a.m. Wednesday. Temperatures warmed up substantially for the second night and students resumed normal tenting protocol.
“Tent City is supposed to be a fun thing, and people are dedicated, but proving yourself at 5 degrees or something crazy like that isn’t really necessary,” said Lumia, “Anytime the health and safety of Gonzaga fans is in jeopardy, the Kennel Club is going to work hand in hand with the administration to make sure everything goes smoothly.”
While Tent City has withstood numerous weather conditions, this was the first time Tent City residents were not allowed to sleep outdoors for a night. In her four years at GU, Cleary has participated in multiple tent cities.
“Honestly, I didn’t think that they would cancel it because I had never heard of them canceling Tent City even if it’s too cold,” said Cleary.
The system between security and the Kennel Club Board is proving to be highly effective.
“We get a little better at actually working together to kind of forecast those things so, for example, this is just the second year we’ve had a risk manager,” said VanSant.
Tent City is just one of multiple campus events that are monitored for safety purposes. Student Activities and Campus Security will continue to work with the Kennel Club Board to figure the best ways to carry out future tent cities.
“The main thing is that we want the fans to be healthy and happy,” said Lumia. “We don’t want to send sick fans into the Kennel, and you don’t want people to be unhappy.”