Security at Ring Dance this year will be tighter than in the past because of damage to The Jefferson Hotel at last year's event, and everyone attending must be registered on the guest list.
“[Ring Dance] is an event about the juniors,” said Olivia Karahan, Westhampton College Government Association junior class president. “So the only people that should be there are the people paying respect to the junior women that are in the procession.” In addition to checking against a master guest list, access to the upstairs areas of the hotel will be reserved for those with wristbands distributed to guests of The Jefferson after 6 p.m. No outside alcohol will be allowed in the hotel.
“In my experience, in the past two years a lot of people have come just for the experience of being at Ring Dance and in a fancy hotel,” Karahan said.
“Overconsumption has been a problem and disrespecting a venue that’s near and dear to the Richmond community. … There was a severe amount of damage to The Jefferson last year.”
Westhampton College Dean Juliette Landphair described some of the behaviors observed last year in an email sent to the women and parents of the junior class and encouraged Ring Dance attendees to drink and behave responsibly.
“In individual rooms, where ‘parties’ were held, paintings were torn off walls, curtains trampled, and dark stains marred the carpet,” Landphair wrote in her email. “We all want our junior women to have the best time possible … and it is simply unfair for the behavior of exceptionally-inebriated students, escorts, and parents to ruin it for them.”
Jennifer Crisp, The Jefferson Hotel public relations manager, declined to give specifics on the cost of the damage inflicted, what parties were responsible or who bore financial responsibility, but wrote in an email that their staff had been planning for and looking forward to the event for months.
Junior Lauren Joyce plans to attend Ring Dance, and said she appreciated the emphasis on responsibility, but didn’t want concerns over the problems last year to detract from the excitement surrounding this year’s event.
“People are worried they’re not going to be able to enjoy the event now and that it might be too strict,” Joyce said. “I know now they’re trying to enforce wristbands, and you can’t go on certain floors if you don’t have a room at The Jefferson, which is kind of unfair because I know a lot of parents have rooms so they can have friends over and celebrate.”
According to the Westhampton College website, the Ring Dance tradition is an opportunity for junior class women and their families to celebrate their academic achievements.
During the formal ceremony, the women are introduced and each of their academic pursuits is announced before they receive their class rings and walk down the stairs of the lobby, where the class assembles to form the letter “W.”
Jan. 31, 2015, will be the first Ring Dance where the junior women will not wear white dresses or be accompanied by an escort as they receive their rings and walk down the stairs.
“This year we’ve changed to black dresses, and you’re going to process alone,” Karahan said. “But in that we’ve provided the opportunity for the girls to list who they’d like to thank for getting to where they are today. … It’s a very beautiful ceremony.”
Joyce said she didn’t mind the changes to the dress code but disagreed with the decision to remove escorts from the ceremony.
“I’ve always thought that we should be able to bring an escort down the stairs,” Joyce said. I know traditionally it has been father-figures, but I think you should be able to pick anyone who is a significant figure in your life.”
Contact reporter Jesse Siebentritt at firstname.lastname@example.org