Changing the meaning of Quadfest

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For a long time Quadfest has been a Radford tradition. For better or worse, it is the university’s yearly gathering, known statewide by the wild tales of parties that circulate through a plethora of cities.

Recently, it seems that the tradition is dying. Radford needs it to live again, to find a common ground between epic revelry and total chaos – RU’s reputation is on the line – and the way to do that is to make Quadfest an organized event.

When Quadfest began, it was designed by the school to give students a break between spring break and finals. It was a music festival back then, all on campus, and sponsored by RU.

As it evolved, it spread off campus. Eventually, by 2006, it was a totally student-led weekend, and had made the jump from relaxing music festival to near-riot in the streets that surround campus.

The idea is still alive. However, the intense scrutiny that law enforcement puts on the weekend has all but killed the tradition. This year, like years before, a special field command vehicle was brought in to coordinate and expedite arrests. The police aren’t exactly thrilled about it either; many came from hours away to assist the RUPD, and couldn’t be home with their families for Easter.

“Honestly, after the JMU Springfest riot, Quadfest has not been the same,” said Blake Jackson, who has been at Radford since 2008. “The police force has increased, expanding to the National Guard. That wasn’t a thing in the past.”

Anyone who went out over the weekend can attest to the fact that it was not much more than a normal weekend here. There were parties, people went to the bar, some had too much to drink, and others didn’t do anything at all. Many students even took the weekend to go home for the holiday and avoid the trouble of dealing with Quadfest altogether. That’s not the way people should feel toward Radford’s biggest event of the year.

It’s time for Quadfest to evolve again. Some are saying that this weekend will be the real deal. But if we can’t even decide which weekend Quadfest is, then is it really going on at all anymore? To bring everyone back together, to limit illegal activities, and to live up to the event’s namesake, the school needs to bring back the music festival on campus.

The majority of students who aren’t old enough to drink live on campus, and are only encouraged to get into trouble by having Quadfest be such an undefined weekend. Saturday, there was a concert in Porterfield, but something big and outdoors would draw a lot of people onto the campus and be a fun way to spend a warm weekend without getting into trouble. It could also be a way to raise money for the school and local musicians.

A change of venue would be another way to limit the property damage and arrests that are associated with Quadfest. Permits could be acquired to allow students to drink and camp in Bisset Park. Stages could be set up and some students could be hired as a clean-up crew, and the park could be used to host a weekend-long music festival.

Police could easily maintain the area. DUI check points at the few entrances to the park would ensure that no one left under the influence, and a few officers could patrol the park to make sure people didn’t start fights or get out of hand.

Whatever it takes, there needs to be a collective effort put forth by the student body, the university, and local police to make next year’s Quadfest more than just an inconvenience to most of those involved.

Having students being arrested at an unusually high rate just before final exams and summer break is no way to end the school year. Having people leave town or avoid going out on a spring weekend is no way to uphold a university custom. It’s up to us to figure out a more productive way to conduct this event and keep the tradition alive.