New prom photography rules create controversy

Abby DeGennaro, Campus Carrier Staff Writer

Whether it’s their first spring on campus or their fourth, Berry students know the complications that arise during prom season.

“(Prom season) is awful,” senior Annabeth Sadler, a resident assistant in the Ford Complex, said. “Parking is always an issue, because we only have so many parking spots in certain areas of the complex. People will park in the road between the complex and the athletic fields and no cars can fit through.”

Traffic is especially an issue when there are multiple events occurring on the same day. Not only do six local high schools have prom this Saturday, but there are two weddings, a wedding reception, two recitals, track and field championships, a baseball doubleheader and Finals Fest. 

Campus police are taking measures to lessen traffic problems worsened by prom-goers to ensure campus safety.

“The one thing from a campus safety perspective that is very concerning is that you have to keep the roads open for emergency vehicles,” Gary Will, vice president for campus police and emergency response management, said. “When there are so many events and limited parking, we have to find a way to keep the roads clear.” 

To ensure the roads are open for emergency purposes these next three weekends, Will and his team hand-delivered letters explaining the situation to 13 area high schools. 

“The purpose of these letters was to give some advance warning to let people know that there will be a lot of people,” Will said. 

Many community members misinterpreted the letter, which made its way around Facebook. The All On Georgia – Floyd Facebook page posted about it, receiving 122 shares. Many comments on the original post and its shares were in support of Berry’s letter, but some users left negative comments. One wrote that the policy is “ridiculous,” and another user wrote that Martha Berry would be ashamed of the regulations. 

“It came across to some as denying people access to the campus, and that was never the intent. There’s nothing in the letter that says you’re not allowed to come on campus,” Will said. 

In response, Berry posted a statement and photography policies on the Berry website to “clarify any confusion.” It states that Berry College is not restricting anyone from taking pictures, but that traffic may cause delays and parking availability will be limited. The page lists five photography guidelines guests are expected to follow: 

•Please treat the historic structures and nature (trees) carefully and with respect.

•Please park only in parking lots and assigned parking spots.

•Visitors are not allowed inside the Ford residence halls.

•Public restrooms are available at Krannert Center.

•The WinShape Retreat on Mountain Campus is private and restricted.

It also asks guests to respect alumni and students attending events on campus, which some students identify as an ongoing issue. 

“I’ve heard a lot of students get confronted by parents,” senior Tommy Hoemeke said. “I think that’s absurd.”

Senior Leah Cobb agrees – she has been asked to move while studying outside Ford so a prom goer could take a photo in her study spot. 

Sadler has noticed this disrespectful behavior during her three years as an RA at Ford. 

“(The prom-goers) want to take pictures in the archway, but they forget that people actually live there,” Sadler said. “Then they get annoyed with students who are trying to get into their residence hall, which is where they live and pay to live. It’s an inconvenience and you feel like you’re intruding in your own home.” 

Some students are especially concerned about prom photography the weekend of graduation. 

“As someone who’s graduating on May 6 and who knows there’s a prom on May 6, I do worry that we’ll be asked to step aside for prom pictures,” Cobb said. 

“I have a bunch of family coming into town, and they’re going to have to fight for parking with people who aren’t even here for the ceremony,” Hoemeke said. “We don’t need even more traffic, especially on a day that’s meant to celebrate Berry students.” 

These students would like to see an actual restriction in place on graduation day. 

“(The guidelines are) a step in the right direction,” Cobb said. “But I would honestly like to see more done about this issue.” 

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