Grease (Pole) is the word

Grease Pole ‘one of the most well-managed events,’ EngSoc president says

The class of Sci ’12 gets down and dirty at the annual Grease Pole climb.
The class of Sci ’12 gets down and dirty at the annual Grease Pole climb.

On Saturday, the engineering class of 2012 endured a wet and muddy climb as they shimmied their way to seize the tam at the annual Grease Pole climb.

The climb, officially lasting two hours, 36 minutes and six seconds ended when Cian O’Neill-Kizoff, Sci ’12, seized the tam from the top of the Grease Pole.

Jordan Black, Engineering Society president and Sci ’09, said the event was successful despite one injury mid-way through the climb.

“The one injury we thought we had ended up being okay. The ambulance didn’t end up going to the hospital and the frosh rejoined the climb,” he said. “I think in the end, the first-year student fell over when people were leaving the pit. She was tired and cold. She was getting exhausted so she warmed up in the ambulance before re-entering the pit.”

Black said this year’s climb was monitored by AMS Student Constables. Until last year, security for the event had been the responsibility of Science Constables, who were employees of Clark Hall Pub.

“Security this year was run the same as last year. Last year, there were no more Science Constables with the closure of Clark Hall. The Student Constables were responsible for everything outside the pit and the crowd,” he said. “The in-water security is the job of the Water Team. The Water Team is responsible for everyone inside the pit. They make sure people are climbing safely.”

Black said liability is the same at the Grease Pole as it is for other Queen’s sanctioned events.

“The land is owned by a corporation that EngSoc formed with the purpose of buying the land,” he said. “We’re still covered under AMS liability insurance. I don’t know of any limitation that is different than any other event.”

Black said the event is outlined in the Grease Pole operations manual.

“Each year, the Grease Pole co-ordinator updates this manual. It’s extensive. We all have a step-by-step guide outlining how everything is run and what to do if anything goes wrong.”

Black said during a risk management training session last year, run by the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs and the AMS, the Grease Pole was used as an example of a safe event.

“The Grease Pole was cited as one of the most well-managed events. Others strive for an operations manual.”

Black said the Kingston Police are welcome at the event to ensure everything runs smoothly.

“I was under the impression to go on private property, the police have to ask permission,” he said. “We’re not concerned about the police presence and welcome it. We did have a couple of officers who ventured in to see what was happening.”

Dave Patterson, director of Campus Security, said the Kingston Police are present for the Grease Pole for security reasons, but they don’t come onto university property.

“The police are on city property. They’re here for the overall safety for all disciplines and so people are able to get back and forth on the road safely,” he said.

Patterson said Campus Security has been attending the Grease Pole climb for at least 20 years, and said he’s seen constant security upgrades over the years.

“There is a planning committee that works throughout the year and after the event they debrief and discuss improvements that can be made,” he said.

The Sci ’12 victory over the pole came after the event moved into a directed climb.

“There’s no set time limit before going to a directed climb,” Black said. “The decision is based on how the climb is going, the weather and other things.”

Black said a directed climb is regarded no differently by Engineering Students than any other climb.

“There isn’t any negative stigma associated with a directed climb. The last few years have all gone through a directed climb,” he said. “The end result is the same, and we want to get the tam as a group. In the last few years, we’ve gone to a directed climb to prevent kids from getting exhausted.”

Black said the record for the Grease Pole climb depends on how it is measured.

“The modern day record, using lanolin, is Sci ’08 and they climbed it in 31 minutes,” he said. “The overall record is, I believe, Sci ’77, and they did it in 17 minutes. That is with a different pit, and a different lubricant.”

Renée Frigalt, Sci ’96, said times have changed since her year climbed the Grease Pole.

“I don’t remember people being patted down and there was a lot of open drinking,” she said.

Peter Timan, Sci ’79 said in his year there was no security present at the Grease Pole.

“There was road kill in the pit. People got sick and people got infections,” he said. “This is good. They are doing a lot … but it’s still fun.”

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