Fights End Homecoming Dance

The dance ended with a chaotic rush out the front door as police attempted to break up multiple fights. Photo by Konrad Odhiambo

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The homecoming dance ended with a stampede of people running out of the McDonough Sports Complex at 11:40 p.m on Saturday.

A fight outside the complex involving three girls at 11:15 p.m. brought an initial police response and, 20 minutes later, a second fight inside the dance ended the event and caused the chaotic rush out the front door.

The first fight was broken up by Hudson Valley Public Safety officers.

Hudson Valley student Taylor Delisle witnessed the first fight. “I saw a lot of hair pulling and I think some blood,” she said.

Delisle thought Public Safety could have acted quicker. “They stood there and took in what was happening instead of reacting,” she said.

Jim Clark also witnessed the first fight. “It took at least two officers per girl,” he said, referring to the officers struggling to subdue the fighters.

“It was nuts,” said Clark.

Witnesses said the girls were drunk and screaming expletives at each other.

Two of the girls were arrested by Troy Police and a third ran away.

Right as things had calmed down and the first fight was brought to an end, a person came outside and announced that another fight was happening inside the dance. Officers from the Troy Police Department, North Greenbush Police Department, Rensselaer County Sheriff, and State Police were already on site and entered the building. As the police entered, dozens of students ran through the doors.

Joey Harrington, human services major, was inside the dance and witnessed some of the fight. According to him, it started when someone threw a punch that hit the wrong person, which then caused two people to start fighting.

“I just remember being pushed and separated from the group I was with and then things just escalated quickly,” he said.

“We were just dancing and all of sudden it came out of left field,” said Hudson Valley student Kendra Kole. “Someone stepped on a balloon and I thought it was a gunshot,” she said.

According to witnesses, multiple males were involved and throwing punches. None of them were identified or apprehended by law enforcement.

“For the most part it was a great party. Things got a little out of control around 11:30 and we had to end it,” said Louis Coplin, Director of Student Activities.

“I think overall it was a great turnout. There were a few bad apples that ruined it,” said Student Senate Vice President My’Asia Colon.

The Student Senate, who organized the dance, was generally satisfied with the event before it came to an end prematurely. “So far the turnout has been great. People have been steadily flowing in since quarter to nine,” said Jordan Neves, student senate member, at about 9:30 p.m.

Music was played by DJ Static and DJ L-Squared. After the fight, DJ Static said, “It wasn’t the music that caused it. I wasn’t even playing anything rowdy.”

Over 315 students attended the dance. “I feel like it’s a great turnout. This is the most attended evening event that Hudson Valley has had,” said Senior Class President Casey Angello.A Public Safety Officer subdues one of the three girls involved in a fight outside of the Homecoming Dance

However, Angello also said the ending of event was “not quite what we expected.”

The only problem before the fighting started was that the dance was brightly lit by the emergency lights in the McDonough Fieldhouse, which couldn’t be turned off. “The turnout is great. The one thing that really ruins it is the lighting,” said Student Senate President Grace Harrison. Fifteen minutes after that comment, the lighting seemed like a relatively mild problem.

As the crowd rushed outside and started forming groups in the parking lot, more police cars rushed to the scene. About 15 squad cars came to Hudson Valley with about 20 officers.

Hudson Valley has not had a homecoming dance in years. The Student Senate originally planned to hold the dance at The Armory in Albany, but found resistance from the Student Activities office and legal consult.

Colon hopes that the fight won’t jeopardize the ability to hold future dances. “I think the idea of events like this, it might make it a little sour. It’s just something that will have to progress over time, I guess,” she said.

 

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