Drug Concerns Alleviated at Campus Rave

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The usually sedate second floor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Union became a maze of colors, lights and music Saturday night.

Organizers sold nearly 700 tickets to "School House Rock," sponsored by the ASUC and the student group Sonic Insomnia.

Students donned a variety of gear, ranging from the traditional raver costume of baggy pants, glitter and glowsticks to jeans and sweatshirts.

"Everybody was really having a blast. They came up to us and just started hugging everybody," said APPLE Senator Kenny Kamrin, who organized the event. "It was great."

Although many ravers looked like the real deal, UC Berkeley student Alfred Young, a veteran raver, said he could tell the difference between this event and off-campus parties.

"I know all these people are Cal students," Young said. "People at other raves are more flamboyant, and the cops really stick out."

Another group of ravers who decked out in shiny clothing and glowsticks said they felt School House Rock was similar to other dance events, but much smaller and more accessible, which made it a perfect rave for first timers.

While the UC Police Department maintained a large presence at the event, they did not interfere with students having a good time. The department has a no tolerance policy toward alcohol and required dance organizers to use metal detectors at the door.

Following concerns of possible ecstasy use, several groups came to the event to educate students about the risks of drugs.

Members of Dance-Safe, a police-endorsed harm reduction group, distributed literature about the potential danger of drug use. They accepted donations in exchange for kits to test the purity of ecstasy pills, which should contain only MDMA, but are sometimes mixed with more dangerous chemicals such as ketamine.

Police asked Dance-Safe not to test ecstasy pills on site, but did allow the group to give out kits.

Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, a campus group that favors drug education and rehabilitation over the current drug war, also manned a table at the event.

"We believe that it is important to promote harm reduction and a safe environment for drug use," said Scarlet Swerdlow, a member of the campus group.

Worried about a potential repeat of the looting that occurred on Oct. 14, the last time a major event was held in Pauley Ballroom, local businesses closed early and barred their windows. In addition, a noticeably large number of Berkeley Police Department officers patrolled Bancroft Way, across the street from the student union.

Despite the large police presence, dancers and organizers said the rave met and exceeded expectations.

"School House Rock was a big success for the senators and the entire ASUC," said ASUC Senator Erwin Tam. "All the volunteers made it a smooth night."

Although ticket sales raised money for the ASUC, senate officials said making a profit was not the rave's primary motive.

"We want to unite the campus community, to bring everyone together," said APPLE party member Joseph Henchman.


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