Last Nov. 8, the Tommie football team walked proudly to the Coughlan Field House locker room, celebrating its 36-20 defeat of Bethel University. This year, the team won’t walk to that same field house after the game, and neither will students walk to a homecoming dance.
Demolition of the Coughlan Field House and Schoenecker Arena has taken away space for athletic teams to practice and perform, but it’s also affecting student activities. Because there is no convenient space, Campus Life has decided to not hold a homecoming dance this fall and the news was disappointing to some students.
“I’ve gone every year,” senior Katy Sanders said. “There’s always a good turnout.”
Other locations, including McCarthy Gym on South Campus, were considered as dance locations, but none met health and safety regulations.
“When there are 1,500 people in one space you have to take into account traffic flow. You have to take into account restrooms,” said Associate Director of Campus Life Matt Gustafson. “As a staff, we decided [McCarthy Gym] wasn’t an option.”
Athletic teams have been using McCarthy as their only indoor practice facilities and holding the dance there runs at too high of a cost, according to Gustafson.
As a different option, Campus Life considered moving the dance off campus. However, since these activities are funded by the student activity fee, the staff decided the best choice is to keep students on campus.
“Logistically it’s really difficult to do something that large of scale off campus,” Gustafson said. “When you’re talking transportation, the costs add up quickly.”
Another idea was to host the dance outside, but the university is only allowed one noise variance a semester and it is already being used for a new upcoming event. St. Thomas is now taking the money used previously for the dance and putting it toward bringing another concert to campus.
STAR is sponsoring Eric Hutchinson as the homecoming concert to play in the O’Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium the night of the homecoming football game and Michelle Branch will also be visiting campus on Sept. 26 as the added fall concert.
Construction noise will drown out potential for a dance, but other homecoming traditions still stay strong. The annual “Taste of Saints” and pep fest will be held on the Upper Quad, and the homecoming parade will still take place as usual. STAR is also sponsoring a small dance that will be held in Scooters, with a maximum capacity of 200 people.
“We’ll have a smaller dance, but it won’t be the same experience as in the field house,” senior Kyle Smisek said. “I understand that advances need to be made, but at the same time it’s unfortunate
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