Regulations hurt Booth tradition

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

As an alumnus, I have fond memories of Spring Carnival and, in particular, Booth. I was never part of a fraternity, so Booth gave me an opportunity to work with other members of an organization to build something great that would be enjoyed by hundreds of visitors. Booth gave me an opportunity to meet alumni and general Pittsburgh residents. Booth was collaborative, spontaneous, and open. Booth was fun. However, as Carnegie Mellon becomes increasingly paranoid and restrictions are added to the process, I worry that bureaucracy is destroying much of what Booth is at its core.

Last year, I arrived on campus and headed to the Morewood parking lot only to find that I had to sign a waiver and wear a wristband to be allowed on Midway. The process wasn’t too painful. However, the new requirement seemed a little contrary to the openness and collaboration fostered by Booth in the past. If I had been a student instead of an alumnus, having to sign a legal document and wear a wristband for the week also would have been a potential deterrent from participating at all.

This year, the university has instituted an additional deterrent: mandatory university-issued hardhats. This is not to say that hardhats in general are a bad idea — there could certainly be more safety equipment in use by organizations — just that it seems like a badly implemented knee-jerk reaction to a problem that doesn’t exist. Students would be better served by training programs to increase safety knowledge. As it stands, the new requirements do little to actually protect students and increase their safety, and seem to serve little purpose other than to make the university more comfortable from a legal standpoint. Even so, if the goal was to limit its legal liability, requirements on top of the waiver are pointless overreactions and only serve to discourage students from participating in Booth. Current student Josh Watzman put it best when he said, “The recent string of introductions of legal barriers in order to allow a person to work on Booth is ridiculous. I’m worried that it is going to kill Booth as we know it....”

Additionally, neither the waivers nor hardhats are effective in protecting random people wandering onto Midway. There are never signs warning of the potential dangers. I have seen people walk with their small children into booths filled with power tools and exposed wiring and nails. Wristbands or not, there will always be random people wandering around booth construction. It seems that, rather than make Booth more difficult for people who want to participate, the university should be making the risks and dangers clearer for all involved. In general, the new requirements for working on Booth represent a disturbing trend toward limiting access and making Booth an event for a few instead of an activity for all.