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Davis, California

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Crimes cause end of Whole Earth Festival DJ stage

Beginning next year, UC Davis officials have announced that the DJ Stage will not return for the Whole Earth Festival due to three aggressive crimes under investigation, including sexual battery and rape.

The reported rape of a 16-year-old girl occurred Friday night in a men’s bathroom in Wellman Hall, located just west of the DJ Stage. The victim was able to free herself of the suspect and return to her friends, but she didn’t make a report until Sunday morning. On Saturday night, there was a report of sexual battery of a 14-year-old, which occurred at the stage itself.

“The technopit area has been evaluated over the past four years and last year security was a huge issue,” said Brett Burns, director of Campus Unions. “This year with the severity of the instances, it made sense to say that the stage will not happen anymore.”

UC Davis Police Lieutenant Matt Carmichael said the stage attracted a larger and younger crowd this year, bringing in almost 1,000 people, including a large number of middle and high school students.

“The Whole Earth Festival is a good event and we had a few unfortunate crimes mostly contained to the DJ Stage,” Carmichael said. “Other than the few violent crimes, things weren’t really different from last year’s crimes.”

A third crime occurred near the stage, involving the violent beating of a 19-year-old male. Police arrested 19-year-old Woodland resident Ramiro Alejandro Cordova, who is accused of assault with great bodily injury. No arrests have been made regarding the rape or sexual battery, but police say they are following every lead and doing the best they can to find suspects.

Other crimes of the weekend included the arrest of a 16-year-old girl on suspicion of having marijuana for sale, three public drunkenness arrests, and 12 citations of alcohol-related infractions.

The Whole Earth Festival, which has occurred for the past 42 years during Mother’s Day weekend, attracts over 10,000 people a year and has featured the DJ Stage since 1998, along with crafts, food, music and workshops. Despite the crimes, the festival itself is not in danger of being shut down.

Student programmers will reevaluate the schedule for next year’s festival, without the stage and dangers it posed, Burns said.

Laura Damian and Racquel Esqueda, co-directors of the festival, said in a press release that they support the decision to remove the stage and will reevaluate next year’s programming with safety in mind. Over the weekend’s ASUCD budget hearings, ASUCD Controller Don Ho said the festival’s budget wouldn’t be cut with the removal of the stage. Rather, the funds for the dance pit will be allocated elsewhere.

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Fred Wood said that the stage’s removal sends a message that this type of behavior is unacceptable.

“It can’t continue and it won’t be tolerated. We need to create a safe environment for everyone at this university…” he said in a press release. “We must recapture the intended spirit of the Whole Earth Festival, which has been a popular community event for decades.”

CHARLOTTE YOUNG can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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