Back Of The Envelope: How Many Sign-Ins In EC?

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Pictured: the EC elevators in a rare moment of full light.

Signing into and out of East Campus on a weekend night is a special kind of hell. The lobby is so crowded with Barnard students, NYU folk, and miscellaneous friends & family that guests can hardly move. If you do manage to get past the gates, your (pitch dark) elevator ride up to the 20th floor will make you wish you had just stayed in. How many people face this terror? We attempt to calculate, using our Frontiers of Science/Beginner’s Mind techniques, how many sign-ins EC handles on the average Saturday.

Assume that the number of sign-ins required is equal to: (Number of suites/townhouses in EC) * (Rate of parties per room) * (Number of people per party) * (Rate of sign-in need per partygoer) + Non-party sign-ins.

Number of suites/townhouses in EC
East Campus has 719 residents, split among 80 high-rise suites, 40 high-rise doubles, and 50 townhouses. There are 8 floors of suites in the high-rise. Suites and townhouses total to 130.

Rate of parties per room
Assume that on any given Saturday, there are two major parties on each high-rise floor of EC. This puts the rate of parties at 20%. (If Thursdays and Saturdays have equal party rates, then 20% implies that each suite has a major party about once every 2.5 weeks.) We can also extrapolate this 20% figure to the townhouses. Of 130 suites and townhouses, 26 would host a party on any given Saturday. Doubles, unfortunately, are not cool enough to host parties.

Number of people per party
Parties can vary greatly in their size, but I provide here a possible portrait for the average party at its peak.

  • 4 people are in the kitchen getting water, raiding the fridge, or finding a safe corner of the party.
  • 3 people are on the couch. They are close friends, and tonight, they are very cuddly.
  • 4 people are on the stuffed chairs (two per chair). One pair is a couple that refuses to get a room, while the other pair checks their respective phones.
  • 15 people are dancing hard in the middle of the suite, assuming the hosts did a good job of clearing out a dance floor.
  • 10 people are in two groups of five, talking and drinking on the periphery of the main dance circle.

In total, this archetypical EC suite has 36 partygoers. However, the five residents of the suite are members of the party, meaning that 31 people may or may not need sign-ins.

Rate of sign-ins needed per partygoer
Primary groups who need sign-ins include Barnard students, GS students, other affiliated Columbians, and non-affiliated friends. Taking a look at the undergraduate population distribution of the university could make a good jumping-off point. Columbia contains roughly 4500 CC students, 1500 SEAS students, 2500 Barnard students, and 2000 GS students. This puts the ratio of CC/SEAS to Barnard/GS at 4:3. CC/SEAS students make up the vast majority of EC residents. Accounting for non-Columbia undergrad students, and for the rate of social participation of GS students, we can use that 4:3 ratio as a decent guess towards how many partygoers need sign-ins. 3 out of 7 (42%) partygoers may need sign-ins.

Non-party sign-ins
For every double, suite, or townhouse not hosting a major party, I allotted one sign-in. This additional 13 sign-ins per floor accounts for friends coming to study and smaller parties/hangouts in East Campus. This totals to 104 additional sign-ins.

Final calculations
If we plug in all of our numbers, we come to the following conclusion.

(Number of suites/townhouses in EC) * (Rate of parties per room) * (Number of people per party) * (Rate of sign-in need per partygoer) + Non-party sign-ins = (130)(.2)(31)(3/7) + 104 = 449 sign-ins.

So the next time you’re angry that the EC guard can’t find your ID quickly, remember that they’re probably juggling literally hundreds of other ID’s. Godspeed.

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