By; Emily Shanmugam
The most recent Choices event on October 29th was a “smashing success” according to many, who enjoyed dressing in costume and dancing the night away at the alcohol-free club that’s been temporarily shut down for two years. However, there may have been a bit too much excitement, as rumors have circulated those attendees did some damage to The Alley, where Choices took place. To get the scoop on this development and learn more about the plan of action moving forward, I spoke to Mindy Graham, the Director of Student Activities. I also spoke to Shirley Kessel, Graceland’s liaison with the Lamoni SAFE Coalition, the volunteer organization that owns The Alley and helps enable activities like Choices.
Graham said students at Choices significantly damaged The Alley. They put a hole in one of the air hockey tables, while the stage caved in by the DJ area because too many people were standing on it at once. Right now, Graham said, “GSG and I are working with The Alley to ensure the damages are fixed, along with a plan for moving forward.” A repairman used by The Alley, as well as Graceland’s facility services team, will inspect the damage. Once the Alley’s repairman gives an estimate, a plan will be made to get it fixed.
When I asked how this might affect the ability to have future Choices events, Graham said, “The hope will be for Choices to continue! We do need a Choices Manager and a team of people to be trained on managing the event itself and the building along with planning alternate locations and evenings. In the meantime, GSG has stepped up and really taken the initiative of providing entertainment/alternative programming on weekends and I am so grateful for that.”
As far as The Alley goes, there will be some guidelines implemented to ensure a repeat of this event does not occur. As Graham put it, "Even when Choices is held off-campus, it is a Graceland event, and therefore the Code of Conduct is in force. Only students who can respect the space and follow the Code of Conduct will be allowed to be in attendance.”
Kessel agreed with what Graham had to say regarding the damage and plans. She shared with me the mission statement of Lamoni SAFE, which is “to broaden opportunities within our communities for youth to make positive choices and grow strong in a safe, stable, and nurturing environment and to bring people together by providing a welcoming and safe space." She added that “Lamoni SAFE is committed to partner with Graceland and Graceland organizations in any way possible.”
Despite a questionable start, there will likely be future Choices events, so long as students are respectful and don’t take the opportunity for granted. The benefits are numerous, and many enjoy going to Choices. As Graham commented, “The overall mission of Choices is to provide alternative programming on weekends for Graceland students. The great thing about having Choices is that it opens doors for tournaments of all kinds, themed activities, and partnering with clubs and organizations to provide opportunities for smaller groups to celebrate their hobbies/interests.” She concluded that, “With a dedicated team, Choices can continue this semester.”