What was meant to be an iconic campus concert to usher in the spring semester turned into an ugly, dangerous memory.
On Jan. 27, ASUC Superb, one of UC Berkeley’s oldest entertainment organizations, hosted a free concert, presenting rapper Soulja Boy, at Pauley Ballroom for all UC Berkeley students. The two-hour show garnered the attention of more than a thousand individuals, exceeding capacity. With concertgoers lining up shoulder to shoulder in Lower Sproul Plaza to see Soulja Boy, the crowd swallowed itself — people found themselves physically hurt, stampeded and fighting to breathe.
The sheer volume of bodies was enough to create chaos. This, coupled with no on-site organization and management, only exacerbated the issue. By the end of the performance, students alleged being trampled on, cursed at and mocked by their very own event organizers. The event soured in an instant.
There was a deep lack of professionalism and care by ASUC Superb for the students who tried to attend the concert. It is wholly unacceptable that there was no crowd control management for an event that was anticipated to attract hundreds of UC Berkeley students from every walk of life.
Safety must remain a top priority, and here it is hard to believe that it was. Security and medics should not be called upon while the event is already underway — these measures should already be in place.
We begin by declaring that ASUC Superb, ASUC and campus must maintain an integral role in the management of school-sponsored events. Proper protocol for crowd control precautions and capacity management is the most fundamental aspect of hosting an event of this magnitude. Although UCPD security recommendations were allegedly completed in preparation of the Soulja Boy concert, they ultimately proved sorely inadequate.
UCPD categorizes an event where 300 or more attendees are expected as “major,” and that these should be reviewed thoroughly before execution. Extensive procedures leading up to the show, including event and security assessment forms, were made weeks ahead. Despite ASUC Superb discussing appropriate protective measures with Event Services and UCPD, we urge campus and student organizations to carry out these policies with sincerity and never underestimate the prospect of a swelling crowd.
Although ASUC Superb has released an apology on Instagram regarding the recent crowd crush, we call on the organization to hold itself accountable in the future for its carelessness in managing student safety effectively and productively. ASUC Superb must not lose sight of the dangers of crowd control and the value of planned organization as they intend to hold more events in the future.
Friday’s concert is a stern reminder to not take large-scale events lightly and to always be prepared for any scenario. We must never overlook the responsibility of maintaining the well-being and safety of a crowd, just because of Soulja Boy and a little adrenaline.