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ISSUE 116 VOL 13 PUBLISHED 3/7/2003

Pause safety questioned, examined

By Jane Dudzinski
News Editor

Friday, March 7, 2003

In light of recent events in nightclubs in Chicago and Rhode Island, many students find themselves wondering how safe are they in their own St. Olaf "nightclub" – the Pause.

According to Pause coordinators Jonathon Junker ’03 and Kate Johnson ’03, nothing like what happened in Chicago and Rhode Island would probably ever occur in the Pause.

"Our club is bigger, newer and safer," Junker said. He explained that the incident in Rhode Island happened as a result of an over-capacity crowd and outdated safety measures, and the Chicago incident occurred as a result of security officials over-reacting to a fight.

Although the Pause has reached capacity on numerous occasions, such as Mason Jennings, Reel Big Fish, the Limestones, Comedy Sportz, and Pause dances, Junker emphasized that "we are pretty good about making sure that we don’t go over [our limit of 920 people]."

The original Pause was established in 1968 in the basement of a dorm, Junker said. It was re-built in its current location in 1999 during the construction of Buntrock Commons.

Since then, there have been some small renovations, but nothing significant because of the newness of the establishment, Junker said.

"We take safety very seriously, but for the right reasons," Junker said. "We want to make sure that there is no chance of a Rhode Island or Chicago club incident here."

Also, once a year the State Fire Marshall inspects the Pause, and the Northfield Fire Department does random checks as well. Throughout the rest of the year, Buntrock Commons Director Tim Schroer and Student Activities Director Kris Swanson oversee the events in the Pause.

Junker also stressed that the Pause is a very safe environment for students.

"We take safety very seriously," Junker said. "Security and utility personnel are always there to make sure that everything stays that way."

There are four major exits in the facility itself, according to Junker – three in the rear of the Pause and one in front; three of these four doors lead directly outside.

In the case of fire safety onstage, such as the use of pyrotechnics, there are numerous rules, Junker said. First, the band must apply to use indoor fireworks by contacting the Northfield Fire Department. Then, the fire marshal must inspect the actual facility to see what the band intends to do during its concert. Finally, both the fire marshal and the fire department must be present during the show.

"The Pause tends to be safer than some places because it is nearly all solid concrete," Junker said. "We have new fire measures, as well as a sprinkler system."

In addition to fire safety, Junker said that the Pause staff is well-equipped to deal with any issues that may arise during a lively concert or event.

"Being a bouncer in downtown Minneapolis, I know how to deal with fights, and I talk to our guards about safer ways to deal with fights and other incidents," Junker said.

Schroer noted that the most direct effect of the recent incidents in Chicago and Rhode Island is that people are becoming more conscious of their safety upon entering a club.

"The issue has become more about how people react to certain situations versus the actual safety of the Pause," Schroer said.

He went on to explain that the only significant incidents that have occurred in the Pause involved student behavior, including intoxication and anger, instead of safety issues.

"It is more about the behavior of folks in there that has become our ongoing and day to day concern," Schroer said.

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