May 5, 2006

C.U. Plans for Slope Day

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While Cornell students start to relax as the school year winds down, the Office of Campus Life, Gannett Health Services and Student Activities face some of their busiest days, culminating in today’s Slope Day.

“Slope Day has been marked in big letters on our calendar every year starting from the first day of the fall semester,” Sharon Dittman, associate director for community relations at Gannett Health Services, said.

For the past few days, Gannett has been turning its main lobby into a triage with 20 mattresses and IVs. At Gannett, “nobody takes Slope Day off,” Dittman said.

Extra ambulances will be available, and trained volunteers will be on staff. In addition, Gannett will be open extended hours from 8 a.m. Friday until 5 p.m. Saturday for special overnight care.

The most common Slope Day injuries are alcohol poisoning, injuries suffered from fights and unwanted sexual contact, Dittman said. For the past semester, Gannett has been distributing information via table tents in the Cornell dining halls, posters displayed in Residence Halls and various websites. “This is a message we care very deeply about,” Dittman said.

She expects an improvement over last year’s Slope Day. “We just really want people to keep an eye on each other,” she said.

Campus Life has also been heavily involved in the preparations. For the past two days, it has been involved in placing the stage and fencing around Libe Slope. This year, there are many more volunteers than in the past, according to Catherine Holmes, associate dean of Students for Student Activities. Approximately 375 students and 330 staff members have agreed to help out during the event. Holmes said that preparations have been detailed “down to a science” by now. Thus, “no real major changes” are going to happen this year after Slope Day’s unexpected success last year. “We weren’t really sure what to expect, and last year went better than I ever could have hoped,” she said.

Last year, about 15,000 people came to the slope, making it the largest Slope Day in Cornell’s history. Coverage for this year’s Slope Day will remain about the same. Security will involve the Cornell Police department covering the slope and campus roads; Ithaca Police Department covering the event area, Collegetown and the bridges; approximately a dozen extra security officers from several SUNY campuses; Cayuga Security working the stage and gates; as well as Cornell EMS, ambulances and Environmental Health and Safety. “We really beefed up [the coverage] after Cornell started going for more big-name performers,” Holmes said.

In addition to the security and extra volunteers, the Office of Campus Life has been historically responsible for water distribution. “Our number one mission is to keep people hydrated for the day,” said Scott Doyle, planner for Residential and Event Services in the Office of Campus Life. A volunteer staff of about 20 people, comprising Cornell staff members, Ecology house residents and Residence Hall Directors will be at each gate between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. with 20 oz. Aquafina water bottles.

While hydration is important, it seems not to be as large of an issue this year. “The weather is as good as you could ask for, from a medical perspective,” Dittman said, who noted that regardless, Cornell always “plans for the worst case scenario” when it comes to Slope Day.

Archived article by Nadia Chernyak
Sun Staff Writer