W.I.L.D. sees huge crowds, organizers say paramedics overwhelmed
An estimated 1,000 more students than last year flocked to Brookings Quadrangle on Friday for the fall W.I.L.D. concert.
Among the nearly 5,000 students in attendance, some who needed medical attention at the paramedics’ tent on the Quad were turned away for lack of space, said some students staffing the event.
“I had execs on my board tell me that they brought students to the EST [Emergency Support Team] and EMT who were so drunk or on something that they couldn’t stand, and that they were turned away, that tents were turning people away because they could not accommodate more students,” junior and Team 31 co-chair Casey Hochberg said.
“From a preliminary standpoint, I can say that we got the impression that there were a lot of students sick. Definitely compared with last W.I.L.D. in which only one student required medical attention,” she added.
While student organizers noted a concerning number of intoxicated students and lack of space to care for them at W.I.L.D., other individuals asserted that the event was relatively safe.
“EST received a similar number of calls for intoxicated students compared to the past few WILDs,” EST President Jeremy Pivor wrote in a statement to Student Life. “In recent WILDs, EST has seen a decrease in the number of sick case calls. Successful coordination between WUPD, Clayton Paramedics, and EST allowed for everything to run smoothly throughout the night.”
Director of Campus Police Don Strom of the Washington University Police Department said that there were no hospital transfers this year—three people were treated in the paramedics’ tent on the Quad and four calls were placed seeking treatment for intoxicated students elsewhere on campus.
“I guess what I have to judge is, it’s great that nobody ended up going to the hospital or was in serious enough condition to go to the hospital, but you know, the fact that people have to be treated at all for levels of intoxication is always certainly concerning, and it tells us we’re not where we need to be in terms of our ability to get people to drink responsibly,” he said.
Since last semester, students above the age of 21 have been provided with three free beers at the event and prohibited from bringing in alcohol of their own. Strom highlighted this policy change as a likely contributor to a safer W.I.L.D. this year.
“I think it’s been a positive thing that we’ve gone to the third-party vendor for alcohol, so there’s not a bunch of alcohol being brought into the event and the amount of alcohol that is actually distributed at the event is limited,” he said.
No arrests were made on campus, but University City police made one minor-in-possession arrest off campus. According to Strom, few noise complaints were filed in the area.
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Students Jill Carnaghi said the event had “not a lot of drama around it” this year but that student safety, as always, was a concern.
“The greatest concern with Walk In Lay Down is just the safety of each and every student, and fall W.I.L.D. is more high-risk typically than spring because of the number of new members to the community who haven’t seen it, been involved with it, know their limits,” Carnaghi said. “This event is always a concern to me. But I think it’s really a student-initiated and put-on event, and I think they did an incredible job this year.”
Chisom Uche, Team 31’s public relations chair, described significant issues with insufficient medical care available to students at W.I.L.D.
“The EST had their hands full all night. We provide them with EST cots and bags for all the people who have issues of incidences on them to be taken care of. And they said they didn’t have enough, which was kind of alarming because we provided a significant number,” Uche said.
He attributed the problem, in part, to the lack of programming for students before the concert this year.
“I would say, not having Second Stage is huge. Because when you don’t have a place that people can gather around and do something productive, then they just keep drinking on W.I.L.D. I think that’s a really dangerous move,” Uche said. “I would just say, we need to have a place that’s alcohol-free…so people can do something other than drinking all day.”
Despite conflicting impressions of the event’s safety, organizers and administrators agreed that the concert was well-received. Hochberg said that hip-hop is likely to make a comeback in future W.I.L.D.s.
“I’m pleased with how [house music] was received, but I don’t think that it’s a genre that we’re going to try to put at every W.I.L.D.,” Hochberg said. “Hip-hop should be expected for at least fall W.I.L.D. of next year, if not spring of this coming year. It definitely won’t be an entirely house show in the future, and that wasn’t our intention—it’s just how things played out. And we think Wash. U. enjoyed it.”
Note: the original headline of this article stated that the EST tent was overwhelmed according to some reports, but the tent being referred to was the paramedics’ tent on the Quad. Student Life apologizes for the error.