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Elijah Ng has been break dancing on campus for three years.
Michael Grondin/the Gauntlet

Break dance ban enforced in MacHall

SU says their hands are tied on the issue

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Campus Security is enforcing a break-dancing ban in MacHall that started in late February. After talking with leaders from a local club, members of Campus Security, and some of the regular dancers from the stage, the Students’ Union says they don’t like the ban, but there’s not much they can do about it.

As it stands, no one is allowed to break dance in the South Courtyard of MacHall. Unaware of the new rule, three dancers went about their usual pre-dance routine on March 4, deciding on music as they cleaned the stage. Shortly after they started dancing, Campus Security manager Ken Kress approached the group and told them they had to leave.

One of those kicked out was Elijah Ng, a b-boy and recent University of Calgary graduate who has break-danced on campus for the past three years.

“The guy came up and claimed that he had just spoken with someone higher up. He dropped some name,” Ng said. “He told us we are no longer allowed to dance in this area.”

The dancers had a meeting booked with the SU on March 6 to discuss dancing in the courtyard. According to Ng, Kress told them that from their perspective, a ban was already in place.
“The security guard told us that we’re kicked off — effective immediately,” Ng said.

At the March 6 meeting, dancers and executives from the Hip-Hop Funk Styles club spoke with SU vice-president student life Ben Cannon and president Raphael Jacob. Cannon said they looked at different solutions, but these did not include lifting the ban on break dancing in the courtyard.

Cannon said he does not have enough support from staff inside the SU to overturn the policy.

“It would take a lot of convincing people who right now are pretty solidified in what they think is right for the organization,” Cannon said. “I think it would be irresponsible of me to put so much pressure on the people who will be here long after I have served out my last month and a bit as student life, to force them into things that they’re not comfortable with.”

Cannon said he has mentioned the issue to the vice-president student life elect Jonah Ardiel.

“I have already brought this up with Jonah, my successor. We will hopefully be meeting with the dancers to come up with some more permanent solutions,” he said.

According to Cannon, the ban started after Campus Security brought concerns to the SU. Campus Security argued that the break-dancers are not insured in the building. If someone damaged property, the costs wouldn’t be covered. And if one of the dancers got injured, the SU would be at risk of a lawsuit.

Hip-Hop and Funk Styles club president Jared Herring doesn’t buy this story. He thinks Campus Security is looking for an excuse to move the dancers away from their office.

“I don’t think there is any precedent for the liability thing. It’s an excuse for someone to get their way,” Herring said. “Basically, I think the only thing is they don’t want the dancers there anymore. They don’t want them in that space and they’re just throwing out random reasons.”

Herring made clear that his club does not organize the dancing in MacHall. He said some members take part, but just out of mutual interest.

Campus Security would not comment on the ban. They directed our questions to U of C communications, which provided this statement from vice-provost student experience Susan Barker.

“The University of Calgary will continue to work with the Students’ Union to help find a solution to meet everyone’s needs,” Barker said.

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