Dear Mr. President....
I almost died 3 times at Rutgersfest. Before you say anything and bitch at me, I too had a little drinky drink, but I was NOT drunk and was well aware of my surroundings. I don’t want to lose my precious official day to party, but I don’t want to die from others stupidity. I just want those damn people who DOESN’T EVEN GO HERE to GET OFF MY F$%!*(NG LAWN!!!!
In the winter of 2009, I had to make the life changing decision all college-bound high school seniors had to make: choosing where to go to for my higher education. In my case, it was the battle between my dream school, The University of Georgia and my second choice, Rutgers University - New Brunswick. Both schools had all the criteria my parents and I desired, but the only factors that separated the two was the location and the sense of safety. When I visited UGA, the campus was relatively small compared to Rutgers, but I didn’t not see many campus police, whereas here in New Brunswick, I saw an RUPD and New Brunswick Police officer or car every couple of blocks. That is why I ultimately chose to study at Rutgers. During my freshman year in 2010, I knew I made the right choice to be here at Rutgers because I always felt that sense of security and safety whenever I was on campus. Even at Rutgersfest 2010, I saw the heightened level of the police and saw that they were keeping an eye out for troublemakers and kicked out the ones that were endangering the safety of everyone in attendance. That day the RUPD as well as the New Brunswick Police received my full trust, as well as a sigh of relief from my family. I thought to myself, “If the police here can control a large crowd with such confidence, they can protect me”. However at Rutgersfest 2011, I was sorely mistaken.
I arrived to Busch campus seeing a flood of people with the police covering every part of the field. I felt uneasy that there were a great deal more people than expected, mostly 30-40 year old looking males and a great deal of high school students, but I remembered last year’s festivities and was reminded of the undaunted presence the RUPD and New Brunswick police displayed last year. I felt that if they could do it last year, they could do it again. As I walked around the premises, I was overwhelmed by the scent of marijuana and saw at least five people smoking a joint, some of which were right in front of the police. My friend and I notified a police officer of two men distributing a couple bags of weed and described them in great detail, who in response laughed at my observation and told me to, “relax and enjoy the show”. I do not understand why a police officer would brush off this federal offense on government property.
After this my friend and I went to the edge of the crowd waiting for 3oh!3 to perform and were immediately sucked into the mob. We tried to get out of the mob, asking people to please let us through, but they were unchanged so we had to stay still at that one spot. Behind us there was a huge push that threw us and the people in front of us forward. The origin of that shove is unknown, but in response I saw people get pushed up against the rail that separated the stage from the crowd and the security guards push the front most attendees back, which in turn caused a domino effect and cause people to fall back and almost crush one another. The person in front of me fell and had their forearm on my neck while the person behind me was pressed up against my body. I could not breathe and almost blacked out. I almost died then.
After pushing my way out of that situation and recovering from my lack of oxygen, my friend and I broke free from that chaos. We met up with other friends and stayed on the outskirts of the crowd, to the right of the stage and right next to the police that were standing on the other side of the rail. When Pitbull came on to perform, the crowd, once again, pushed my group (now with four members) forward into the mob. I was not so worried this time because I was not even 5 feet away from the 5 police officers and I knew if they saw anyone in danger they would be able to assist. During the performance a group of guys started a “mosh pit” right by my location. A mosh pit is when you have a circle space and people go into the circle and slam into each other. These are usually seen at rock concerts, but the reason to start one at a hip-hop performance is beyond my knowledge. I shoved into a few times from this even though I was not in the mosh pit, but I just shrugged it off. When they started to lift people up to “crowd surf”, that’s when I got worried.
I didn’t notice they were lifting the men up and wanted the rest of the crowd to carry him, mainly because they didn’t warn us. Those group of men were behind me and with my short stature with my taller friend behind me I could not see it very well, yet the police were standing on the railing and could see them very clearly, but decided not to warn the concertgoers in front about the upcoming danger. The first time the men attempted to crowd surf, the man fell on me and almost snapped my neck and leave me paralyzed or even killed, if it weren’t for my quick instinct. My friend, however was not so lucky and was kicked in the pelvic region. We yelled at the group and returned to enjoying the music. The police just looked at them and returned to listening to the music. During the second attempt at crowd surfing, the man landed on my back with his legs almost slamming into my neck and spinal cord at the base of my head if it wasn’t for my impeccable quick instinct to move my head; He slammed his heels into my shoulder instead. Again, the police officers saw the impending danger, and did not warn us. In fact they did not even relocate that group of men who had angered everyone around them. Did I mention the officers were 5 feet away from me?
The performances at Rutgersfest this year were great. The people were not in their right minds, but then again it is not expected of them to be. The only ones I expected to be alert was the police. From what I have observed and experienced, they were not. This year, probably because of the announcement of well known entertainers performing at this year’s festival, there were a great deal more non-Rutgers students. I know Rutgersfest is open to its students and guests, but I wish the police were well aware of this fact and the possibility of more ruckus than seen in previous years. Compared to previous years, the police presence was there, but they did not do their jobs. They did not protect the individuals from the impending dangers. I feel that if security was more attuned to the activities going on and stopped the frequent disturbances within the crowd and outside the crowd, their presence would’ve been felt a great deal more and we wouldn’t have as many if not all of the after-party incidents caused mostly by the non-Rutgers community that is tainting our university’s name.
When I heard of the first shooting on College Ave, it was through my friend via text message, a couple minutes after the fact. When I received an official warning text about the first shooting from RUPD it was 3:23 am, 3 hours after the fact. By that time, 5 other shootings have occurred as well as the bus accident and the death on the train tracks. If RUPD sent out the warning text a lot sooner, then those poor individuals would’ve been warned and could’ve been spared. But no, it took 3 hours to get a warning text about the first shooting.
What I am suggesting is not to cancel Rutgersfest indefinitely, but instead to install greater security at the beginning of the festival, such as checking for school IDs and intervening suspicious activities, or even restricting this event to Rutgers students ONLY. Last year, the police force were very diligent in making sure there were no illegal activities occurring at the concert and we did not have a lot of altercations afterwards. If security is strict for our football games why couldn’t they be at our school functions? As a member of the Rutgers community, I do enjoy and appreciate all of the events RUPA plan. However as a human being, I am very worried about the way our so-called “protectors” act during a time we needed them the most. All I ask is for the police force to be better prepared next year so we will not see this monstrosity at this level again.
That girl who almost died
Rutgers University-New Brunswick
Class of 2013