Students express safety concerns for “Conquest!” in response to recent overcrowded events

Following overcrowding at the Astroworld Festival, high-attendance events are facing more scrutiny.

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Students are expressing safety concerns for the “Conquest!” concert Thursday night at McCarthy Quad in response to recent deaths at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival in Houston and overcrowding at a recent UCLA vs. Villanova game.

Ten people died and hundreds were injured at rapper Travis Scott’s Astroworld concert on Nov. 5. The concert had a dangerous crowd surge toward the stage, with severe overcrowding, moshing and injuries.

Last week, there was also an overcrowding incident at a UCLA basketball game due to understaffing, causing safety concerns for attendees.

“Campus safety departments across Southern California are talking about what happened at UCLA,” DPS Assistant Chief David Carlisle told Annenberg Media. “We have a special events coordinator that works with representatives from departments throughout the university, including athletics.”

Concerts Committee member Sophie Moser told Annenberg Media, “I think most of all, we’re just on high alert and understanding that people are feeling a little bit emotional or nervous in general after seeing something like that. We’re definitely going to be monitoring things closely.”

“They talked to other universities about what happened, what are best practices and how we can avoid any situation that might lead to a crowd rush,” Carlisle said. “It could be an athletic event. It could be a musical concert. It depends. So yes, we’re evaluating how we’re handling those, and I think we’ll have a good plan in place for the future.”

Carlisle said before major events such as the upcoming football game against UCLA, DPS has several meetings to discuss protocols that prevent crowd incursion or rushing the field, along with partnering with private security companies.

“After hearing about what happened at the Travis Scott concert, I am nervous to go to ‘Conquest!’ tonight,” said Alexandra Rahimi, a sophomore studying sociology. “My dad doesn’t even want me going because he thinks it’s super dangerous with everything going on right now. How is DPS supposed to keep a bunch of college students in control?”

Anav Saxena, a senior studying economics and cinema and media studies, has been to “Conquest!” multiple times and said it has always been a pleasant experience.

Saxena recalled the 2017 Springfest cancellation after safety concerns. The show was stopped after students were asked to evacuate during Migos’ set due to overcrowding and the amount of non-USC attendees. The overcrowding caused many safety concerns, with reports of fainting and trampling near the stage, according to USC Department of Public Safety.

“There are gates to get in. I think USC really ramped up their security around concerts and who gets in and how they manage flow,” Saxena said. “So, you know, obviously anything can happen and it’s important to be vigilant, but I hope that nothing does happen.”

After the incident, additional safety precautions were added. Students had to register for the event online and were not allowed to bring guests.

Ipek Narbay, a sophomore studying neuroscience, said organized lines, attentive security and available waters for attendees are helpful safety precautions for big events.

“Conquest!” starts tonight at 5 p.m. on McCarthy Quad and requires students to show their USC ID and Trojan Check for entry. Young Franco will be opening the show and Kenny Beats is headlining.