So another great event story to share. This one I really could have done without, but I know it is a great learning experience and a hilarious story….kind of.
I have the luxury of spending my entire weekend at work (yeah event planning!), starting yesterday we had 4 large (either in size or important) events happening at the same time. All hands on deck. 4 caterers in the building. Student running around in slut costumes (Happy Halloweekend). A bit crazy.
While all conferences started smoothly, I was making a lap around all the separate rooms when I overheard there were student protests happening in 103. Say what?? 103. That is my room. What the heck!?
I run over to 103 to see that campus security is already out front and the Chair (an offspring of a Supreme Court Justice) and the Assistant Chair (a prestigious faculty member) of the speaker series are outside and being confronted. Shit Shit Shit Shit Shit.
Seems that students acting like attendees sat in the conference for a certain period of time, and then when they felt moved, leapt to their feet and berated whoever was speaking. This happened 5 or 6 times. They then fled the scene.
It seems that one of the sponsors and main speakers of this conference is also one of the main targets of Occupy Wall Street. Who knew?? I didn’t! I must have been too busy planning 3 simultaneous conferences… whoops!
Once it happened, it happened. We couldn’t do anything about it. It was now our job to figure out how to proceed forward. To make sure it didn’t happen again. And boy was that fun. I got to deal with a power-hungry head-of-security, two very appalled and prestigious faculty members, and a student representative who for the entire day thought she was running the conference. Let’s just say, I played mediator and referee. Lots of penalty flags were thrown.
Finally, after everyone came back down to earth, we figured out a game plan. We set up tensabarriers and formed lines. We were to check IDs and registration status of everyone as they entered. They were then to put on a namebadge that would allow access in and out of the room.
I comforted my faculty members (I felt really bad for them- they were already so stressed!), the head-of-security went and walked around with the walkie-talkie, and I told the student representative to go eat her damn volunteer pizza.
By the end of the conference, all was well. There were no more protesters and the other attendees found it somewhat exciting!
It was an exhilarating event and a lesson learned. It does suck because it seems we will have to be more strict on security for events (even when we don’t expect to need it), a bit disappointing when we come from an education and learning institution, but we will roll with the punches.
Good story though right? Oh- and my other events turned out just fine as well. Well- at least so far.. time to go check on the room again!