Just two days into the game, Senior Spooning came to a permanent end after three violations of the Blue Book occurred during play last week.
Violations included incidents of harassment and dangerous play, in which some students sustained injuries.
“The competitiveness and intensity that comes with the playing of the game has led to a level of recklessness, breaches of community expectations about civility, and, most importantly, student injury [such] that we cannot condone [Senior Spooning],” said Christopher Capano, Director of Student Activities and faculty advisor to the Blue Key Society, in his e-mail to the community.
Capano and Murphy made the decision with the support of the Cluster Deans, after a discussion that took place over the weekend regarding the several incidents that occurred only two days into Senior Spooning, according to Murphy.
Capano sent an e-mail on behalf of the Student Activities Office, the Blue Key Heads (BKHs) and the Cluster Deans to the Class of 2012 on Sunday announcing the cancellation of Senior Spooning.
According to Paul Murphy, Dean of Students, the game’s cancellation is permanent. Murphy confirmed that the Class of 2013 will be allowed to try a new game or activity next spring, if they choose to do so.
Senior Spooning was an annual campus-wide game played by the Senior class. Each Senior was assigned a target, whose name was written on a plastic spoon. Once tagged, a player had to relinquish his or her spoon to the tagger. The goal of the game was to collect as many spoons as possible, while simultaneously avoiding getting tagged.
The incidents prompted Capano to make the decision to end the game entirely, rather than implement new additional rules.
Capano said he did not originally intend to cancel this year’s game until the three incidents occurred. He added that he will work with the BKHs of the Class of 2013 to organize a different, less dangerous game for next year’s Seniors.
According to Gabbie Cirelli ’12, BKH, the Cluster Deans and Capano have considered ending the game for a few years now because of concerns about safety. Murphy said that they discussed ending the game last year after Mike Wincek ’11 crashed through a glass door in Morse Hall while in pursuit of Kerry Joyce ’11, but ultimately decided to allow the game to continue.
Murphy said, “[We decided to continue the game because] we really felt like it was a good, positive experience. The student who was hurt in that case [Wincek] was adamant that he wanted to keep playing, so I think we were convinced that we could keep going last year.”
“[The game’s cancellation was] not due to any one incident. It’s the evidence that, no matter how hard we try to change the rules and make it more safe, there’s always going to be this element that we can’t control,” said Murphy.
He continued, “This is one of those games that we desperately wanted to keep going. It’s fun, it’s a good bonding experience for the Seniors and we know that it gets kids who are in the same class [and] who don’t necessarily know each other to [get to] know each other. There’s a lot of positives to it, but for the last few years we’ve had a few pretty significant issues. I think every year we’ve had significant or physical issues in which someone has gotten hurt or some intimidating or strange issues that have come up.”
According to Katie McLean ’12, BKH, the BKHs of the Classes of 2012 and 2013 were not directly involved in the decision but supported Capano’s resolution.
After Wincek’s injury last year, Capano and the Cluster Deans established new rules for this year’s competition to promote safer play.
The exteriors of campus buildings and dorms became “safe zones,” so this year Seniors no longer had to enter buildings to be considered “safe.” Streets and sidewalks also became safe zones. According to Cirelli, the new rules also did not permit students to wear sunglasses or cover their faces in order to conceal their identities.
Cirelli said, “You have to be able to strike a balance [with the rules], because the more rules you put in, the more you’re taking away from what the game has stood for for a long time. There have already been so many complaints about the rule changes this year, and there’s only so far you can go with changing the rules without taking away from the essence of the game.”
“I just think that there is a moment at which you have to say that you can’t get enough rules around something that doesn’t really have any referees. It’s like a lacrosse game without referees: if left to do whatever they want, athletes wouldn’t necessarily follow the rules,” said Murphy.