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Student struggles for entry to winter event because she carried a purse

By Lili Sajecki, Special to The Chronicle

I arrived at the Hofstra Winter Blast this past Saturday with the expectation of a pretty good time. The carnival rides looked a little lame, but appeared to be providing enough fun for college students by reminding them of what it was like to be a kid.

This weekend, however, I could not enjoy the festivities because I was denied entry. It wasn't because I forgot to get a ticket or a wristband. The event wasn't even full. I was not allowed inside because I had a purse.

            "Your bag is too big," the Public Safety officers told me.

            "It's a purse," I explained.

The Public Safety officers showed no sympathy. The dialogue between us went back and forth. "No big bags. No backpacks," they told me. "It's a purse," I repeated, referring to my mid-size crossbody bag. I even offered to have them check my bag to make sure I did not have alcohol or anything else inappropriate hidden inside.

"We can't do that," they told me.  They are so-called ‘messengers' and do not make the rules, but I could wait for their supervisor. Instead of enjoying myself at the party, which student fees helped to fund, I was stuck waiting in the building lobby for someone to look at my purse and tell me I could enter.

I pulled up an email advertisement of the Winter Blast on my smart phone, just to make sure it had not said anything about large bags. Sure enough, it did not.  "No backpacks," it said. But there was nothing about purses. As I stood waiting, I noticed several women walk inside with handbags at least twice the size of mine.  "They're faculty and staff," the Public Safety officers told me after I pointed them out.

Being a student with rights that come from paying an expensive tuition, I am surprised that I could not bring a purse to school events, unless I was a school employee.

Several fellow students and I waited almost an hour for a security supervisor to arrive.  When he finally did, he took one glance at my purse and granted me entry. After this significant inconvenience, I walked out of the event moments after entry. It didn't take long to figure out that the Winter Blast was more like a dud.  Thanks Hofstra for once again wasting my time and money.

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