Cornell’s annual Dragon Day festivities started off well this year. The freshman architects built a respectable creature with well-crafted moving parts. After eating breakfast together, the upperclassmen arrived behind Rand Hall in an assortment of hand-made costumes with themes ranging the full spectrum of imagination–Sesame Street, Catholicism, Fantasia, punctuation marks, Milstein Hall, rock/paper/scissors, etc. etc.
This year, my friend and I dressed as flute-playing goat-men. As you can see above, our costumes included furry pants, horns, ears, and some standard faun-accessories (scarf, umbrella, and musical instrument) that have become popular since Mr. Tumnus’ on-screen debut in Narnia. Having been told that my fishing boat and rod posed a threat to the community last year, I intentionally chose a less provocative costume. Fauns are known for being relatively docile animals and if I caused any damage it would likely be to myself.
When the parade arrived on the Arts Quad, the crowd gathered behind two concentric rings of caution tape surrounding the burn-zone. The tradition has always been for architecture students to stand in the chute between these two boundaries and I was surprised when a Police officer warned me to move back. A few minutes later, after the freshmen ran their celebratory circuit between the two lines of tape, I ducked back in to join them. This attracted the attention of another Cornell official who took me by the arm and escorted me away from the crowd.
With unexpected seriousness for someone speaking to a goat-man, the officer asked for my name and date of birth. “Excuse me officer” I replied, “but what is the problem?”
“What is your name?” he insisted.
“What is the issue?” I asked again.
“When were you born?”
“I’m sorry, but what am I in trouble for?”
“What is your name?”
“Why are you arresting me?”
The conversation proceeded like this for several minutes and the officer refused to tell me the offense. My knowledge of the law is idealized and incomplete, but I didn’t think that I needed to share personal information unless (a) I had done something wrong or (b) the officer explained the situation. Apparently I was minsinformed.
In the words of Sonny Curtis, I fought the law and the law won. Several officers gathered around me and I was handcuffed for the first time in my life. This attracted the attention of the Dean of AAP and the Chair of the architecture department, who told the officers that there must be a mistake and explained to the Deputy Chief for about 15 minutes that I’m not a bad kid. More amusing–but much less helpful–were cries for my release from other costumed architecture students, including a full-size deer. In retrospect, it figures that other woodland creatures would come to the defense of an innocent faun.
After the scene on the Arts Quad, I was escorted to the Cornell Police station in Barton hall and handcuffed to a wall for questioning. I’ve never had any infractions against the law but I recognized several of the officers there–I had given them their campus tour when they were new hires.
The questioning was fairly banal and I conducted myself with complete cooperation and respect. The two young officers filled out paperwork and debated which violations they should select on the computer’s scroll-down menu. Apparently they couldn’t find what they wanted, so they marked me down for disorderly conduct and failure to comply. Based on the Dean’s recommendation and my good standing, they decided not to send me to Ithaca court. Instead I will face the JA board after Spring Break and the issue will be dealt with internally.
Besides the shock of being arrested, handcuffed, and questioned in furry goat pants, I am feeling OK about the situation. Arrests on Dragon Day are not uncommon and the JA board has dealt with similar cases. Last year the Cornell Police had the honor of arresting a sperm when he/it tried to impregnate the Phoenix. Sometimes I think they arrest people in costume for their own amusement; in that case, as a public service, I guess my experience was worth it.