President C. L. Max Nikias warned students to think twice before attending raves in an e-mail sent Wednesday.
Nikias advised students to be “cognizant of your choices and to make wise decisions during your time here at USC.”
In the letter, Nikias mentioned that several venues near campus — including the Los Angeles Coliseum, the Los Angeles Sports Arena and the Shrine Auditorium — routinely hold raves. These events, Nikias said, “present serious risks to all who attend.”
The letter went on to list some of the common effects of the drug ecstasy, which is frequently linked to the rave scene.
“Ecstasy, which is common at raves, produces a number of adverse reactions that may include disorientation, anxiety, paranoia, panic attacks and hallucinations,” Nikias wrote. “These reactions, even in mild forms, can create a ripple effect of dangers that lead to catastrophic consequences.”
The letter comes about two months after a USC freshman fell from the sixth floor of Birnkrant Residence Hall after attending Hard Haunted Mansion, a rave at the Shrine Auditorium.
LAPD Deputy Chief Pat Gannon told the Los Angeles Times that based on a police investigation report, it appeared the student had consumed alcohol, marijuana and ecstasy during the rave on Halloween night.
This summer, a 15-year-old girl died at the Electric Daisy Carnival at the Coliseum. The girl did not meet the minimum age requirement of 16 to attend the rave, and doctors told family members that she had ecstasy in her system, according to the Times. More than 185,000 people attended the two-day event, and approximately 120 people were taken to emergency rooms, according to the Times.
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission plans to meet next week to decide if it will allow the Electric Daisy Carnival to occur this June.
Pasquale Rotella, the owner of Insomniac Inc., one of the two companies that holds raves at the Coliseum, issued a statement in response to Nikias’ letter.
“Insomniac’s events aim to cultivate and enrich the human mind and spirit through the arts — a goal that is perfectly in tune with USC’s own mission statement,” Rotella said. “We are eager to meet with President Nikias to provide more information to him and to address his concerns.”
Insomniac Inc. is hosting another rave, Beyond Wonderland, on March 19 at the NOS Events Center in San Bernardino.
Denzil Suite, USC’s associate vice president of Student Affairs, said Nikias’ letter to the student body was intended to raise awareness about raves.
“I think it was prompted purely out of concern for the well-being of the students,” Suite said. “Some students attend raves and he just wanted to make sure they are making good choices if they decide to do so.”
Linda Dahl, a sophomore majoring in political science and history, said that although the message seems well-intentioned, she thinks USC should not implicitly link drugs and raves.
“The intent of the message is good, but just because you go to a rave doesn’t mean you have to do ecstasy,” Dahl said.
Dahl said that it would be better if USC discouraged drug use in general.
Some students do not believe the message will change the minds of those who attend raves.
“If you are a raver, then you’ll go to a rave no matter what,” said Michael Cheng, a freshman majoring in mechanical engineering.
Carol Jun, a sophomore majoring in business administration, said she believes the message will raise awareness, but not alter students’ decisions to attend raves.
“[The people who go to raves] already know about the drugs and they still go to them,” Jun said. “[The message] raises awareness, but I don’t think it will reduce the number of people who go to raves.”
Suite said he believes the message was not meant to change students’ decisions about raves, but to inform students about how to make healthy decisions.
“It’s easy when students are in an environment like this to succumb to the moment,” Suite said. “By giving this information we hope that students will make good personal choices if they decide to attend.”