Senate Beat: Feb 19, 2020

No More Renn Fayre Fireworks

Last Wednesday, thyne holy senators gathered to discuss Reed’s annual celebration, Renn Fayre! Despite Renn Fayre’s ability to elicit eagerness and anticipation, the conversation took a more controversial turn when the czars mentioned updates to the Checkmates system and the planned cancelation of the firework show. 

Two of the Renn Fayre Czars, Celia Morell-Borgstrom and Sebastian Bishop, sat down with the senators last week to discuss their plans on updating the festivities’ contentious Checkmates system. Checkmates is a system put in place to ensure the safety of Reedies by making sure that unwelcome non-community members don’t ruin the merriment. Campus is closed to non-community members during Renn Fayre, so all Reedies, and invited guests, are required to wear wristbands. Checkmates are student volunteers who check people’s wristbands. If an issue should arise, the Checkmates are supposed to contact a CSO. 

In the past, the system used to be known as Boundary Patrol. Unlike Checkmates, who were stationed at building entrances, Boundary Patrol walked around campus and patrolled for people without wristbands. However, this resulted in many instances of racial profiling. The system originally put in place to protect the safety of the community turned to one that made community members feel marginalized and oppressed. 

Another major issue from previous years revolves around student unwillingness to volunteer based on the belief that, in doing so, they’d be perceived as a “narc.” This perception seems to stem from students’ distrust of CSOs and a pervasive ‘us-versus-them’ mentality.

Additionally, students seem to think that the show will go on whether or not they volunteer to help. Well, I hate to break it to you, but Reedie culture states that in order to wallow in the deep-seated chaotic amusement that is Renn Fayre as a senior, you need to rack up some major participatory points in your early years. It’s less of a suggestion and more of an expectation. As one senator put it during the meeting, “In order to enjoy the festivities, you’ve got to give a little… We need to build a community of supporting each other instead of policing each other.”

Vice President of Student Life Mike Brody reflected on a previous year in which the Portland Police Bureau asked to patrol Renn Fayre undercover in order to be ready in case of any difficulties. Brody advocated for the capabilities of the Reed community in handling the event on our own and the expectation of self management is still being upholded by all members of the community alike. 

Other than offering factual insight for the senators and all in attendance, the czars didn’t offer much in the department of how they plan on rectifying these noted issues. Tagged on at the end came the (now widely-known) controversial decision to exclude fireworks from this year’s festivities, mainly due to disability and accessibility concerns and the negative environmental impact of the activity. Some replacement ideas were thrown around with mentions of a drone show or possibly a carnival, but no concrete decisions were made. 

In the end, the senators discussed ways in which we can monopolize on our communities at large by brainstorming ideas ranging from HA and dormie projects to Pax’s quip, “Let’s just do softball.” I supposed this is why we appoint czars to the position, although replacing Renn Fayre with softball all together would be very cost effective. This light note ended the meeting, and all in attendance slithered back into their respective caves. And for a moment, all in the world was quiet.

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