Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Support independent student journalism. Support independent student journalism. Support independent student journalism.
The Dartmouth
April 14, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Field rushing declines under College condemnation

While small numbers of Dartmouth freshmen continue to rush the field during the annual Homecoming game, the practice appears to have waned considerably since its official prohibition in 1986.

The tradition originated in the 1950s, when large groups of freshmen ran out onto the field after halftime to form the numbers of their year. The practice was commonly viewed as a show of class pride, similar to the construction of the bonfire on the Green during the same weekend.

Nonetheless, rushing grew increasingly chaotic in the 1970s. The worst examples of such rowdiness occurred in 1981, when the Class of 1985 overturned a 15-year-old boy's wheelchair.

A similar incident occurred during a 1985 game, in which members of the Class of 1989 trampled an elderly lady in a wheelchair, contributing to the Committee on Standards' decision to ban field rushing the following year.

Since then, the tradition has waned to the point that only one or two students have rushed the field each year for the past 10 years, according to Dean of First Year Students Gail Zimmerman. She questioned whether rushing the field "is really a tradition, if only one out of a thousand freshmen do it."

Two freshmen rushed the field last year -- one, Ted Finnerty '05, was caught by the Hanover Police.

During a 2001 interview with The Dartmouth, Finnerty described hearing cheers from the crowd as the police brought him back across the field toward the Dartmouth section of the stadium. "I've never heard so much cheering -- I really have no idea why the police brought me back on to the field," he said.

"I started waving at the stands with an upward motion, and they all cheered for me one last time -- until the police officer held my hands down."

Nonetheless, Finnerty said that he would not rush the field again. He said that his parents were present at the game to see him brought out onto the field and that they were "definitely angry, to say the least."

Zimmerman said that there is a range in the severity of punishments for students caught rushing the field according to the "egregiousness of their timing."

A fine of $180 and a three-term suspension is "standard," according to Zimmerman, but punishment can be still more severe if a student is caught on the field after the game has resumed.

As the Hanover Police considers rushing the field to be an act of trespassing, students caught rushing the field will incur arrest records, Zimmerman said.

Though no Homecoming has been completely free of freshmen rushing the field, some wonder if the College's significant punishment to rushing students will soon turn this "tradition" into a part of Dartmouth's history.