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The Dartmouth
April 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

College sees no arrests or attempts to touch fire during Homecoming weekend

Homecoming weekend featured a series of festivities without resulting in any arrests or attempts to touch the bonfire.

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From Oct. 20 to Oct. 22, Dartmouth’s Homecoming weekend featured a variety of events for both students and alumni, including the annual bonfire and parade, the Dartoberfest social, back-to-class lectures, tours, mini reunions and a football game at Memorial Field against Columbia University. The weekend went smoothly and no arrests were made, according to Hanover Police Department Lt. Michael Schibuola, who oversaw the event. 

Schibuola noted that for the fifth consecutive Homecoming in a row, there were no attempts to touch the bonfire. This trend marks a sharp decline from 2017, which saw seven attempts, and 2016, which saw 50 attempts, according to past reporting by The Dartmouth. 

In a statement to The Dartmouth, Schibuola wrote that the Hanover Police Department, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Friday night, only encountered two incidents. One incident involved an intoxicated Dartmouth alumnus, who the police department “assisted [by] contacting his wife to get a ride home,” according to Schibuola, while the other was a good Samaritan call of an intoxicated student. 

Elise Tong ’27 said that she had not witnessed or heard about any security incidents on campus during the weekend and added that “the Department of Safety and Security does a tremendous job at keeping incidents from happening.”

Schibuola wrote that the department’s primary responsibility during Homecoming is to provide safety for all participants. He added that Dartmouth College students, along with other local organizations, played a “big part” in keeping the weekend safe.

“This success is greatly facilitated by having a great working relationship to pre-plan these bigger events with Dartmouth staff, Dartmouth Safety and Security and local area public safety departments,” Schibuola said.

Tiana Duong ’27 said that she felt the bonfire was “really well organized” and “really fun.” She added that she had been looking forward to the tradition ever since being accepted to Dartmouth, and that participating in it felt “surreal.”

However, Duong noted that in other ways, she was underwhelmed by the bonfire event. She said that she wished the event was not so regulated.

“I thought that we were going to walk around it 27 times, but we ended up just walking around it one time, and they forced us to get out,” Duong said.

Duong added that she felt that DoSS and the Hanover Police Department “monitored [the situation] a little too much,” which she said “took out the fun.” She described being unable to take photographs of the bonfire due to security guards pressuring her to “keep walking.”

“Thank God there were bonfire chairs, otherwise it’d just be officers controlling everyone,” Duong said. “I think the [officers] went a little bit too far.”

Esther Ni ’27 said that the bonfire would have “been better if it wasn’t raining” and if it lasted longer. Still, Ni noted that “even if it was cold and rainy” she liked the event, and noted that “when you [went] near the bonfire, you [could] instantly feel the heat on your face,” appreciating its warmth. 

Duong added that the return of Dartmouth alumni made the event “wonderful,” saying that their presence at the bonfire “made the moment a lot more special.” 

“It’s kind of like I was looking at my future as I walked in the circle,” Duong said.

Tong agreed, noting that “alumni engagement really ties the community together.” Tong described attending an event called “Scholar Social,” through which she was able to interact with several alumni, adding that some of them gave her recommendations on programs at the College to consider.

Ni, who hails from Shanghai, China, noted that international students often “get closer with people from [their area].” She said that it was a “pleasant surprise” to meet an alumna friend from Shanghai.

“She came to the back door, and I was coming out of the back,” Ni said. “I said ‘Oh my god, you’re Lucy!’ The one that I know and I met!”

Ni added that although she had “no idea how American football works,” she still enjoyed the game on Saturday, particularly due to the College’s comeback. 

Tong concluded by saying that she loved Homecoming and the festivities, noting that they made her feel connected to her fellow peers.