College seeks to curb field rushing

by Allie Lowe | 10/8/07 2:18am

A freshman is escorted off Memorial Field during last years Homecoming game. This year, the College will invite freshmen onto the field.
by The Dartmouth / The Dartmouth

The College banned the tradition of rushing the field at Homecoming because of the destruction caused by students hopping in and out of the stands and the potential for delay of game penalties for the football team Josie Harper, athletic director, said.

This year, in what represents the next in a line of attempts to replace the tradition, freshmen will be invited to congregate in the northwest corner of the stadium during the second quarter. Following a ceremony honoring Reggie Williams '76, the gathered freshmen will run out onto the field surface and form their class numerals.

Sam Hopkins, assistant athletic director for marketing and promotions, said that he hopes students will be on and off the field in a reasonable amount of time.

"We're hoping that the students take advantage of this opportunity to show their school spirit without being disruptive," he said.

The department held a trial run of the structured rush during orientation, which was attended by approximately 150 members of the Class of 2011.

This is not the first time the College has tried to invent safer alternatives to field-rushing. Past efforts have included the reinstitution of "the Gauntlet," in which students were invited to form a tunnel through which the football team would run when exiting the locker room after halftime.

The substitute did not live up to athletic department hopes.

"We tried it and it failed," Hopkins said. "This is our next shot at trying to engage the students without running into the same pitfalls we had in the past."

Hopkins emphasized that the new plan could similarly be discarded after this year.

"It's important to note that this really is a test. This isn't how it's going to be forever if it doesn't work," he said. "We're taking a chance " and we're taking it in front of a lot of people."

Harper said she hoped the structured rush would strike a balance between tradition and safety.

"There must be a happy medium here that makes students feel involved and allows them to have a positive impact," Harper said. "This is a chance to come on the field and do something rather than just run around and be chased by people."

At issue for some students, however, is whether this structured rush lives up to the tradition it was founded upon.

Taylor Holt '09, who rushed the field during the 2005 Homecoming game, called the change "good policy," but said that the new rush would likely not bestow the same kind of notoriety on its participants.

"I took a lot of pride in [rushing the field] because it was a tradition," Holt said. "It was somewhat rebellious but it was something special " not everyone was going to do it."

Holt was arrested and charged with criminal trespassing.

"I have very few regrets," he said. "It's one of the better things a person could get in trouble for as a freshman."

Josh Proper '10, who was among those students who rushed the field in last year's Homecoming game, was similarly skeptical of the plan.

"[Rushing the field] was a once in a lifetime experience. Right after we got out of jail we were smiling," Proper said. "This doesn't really seem the same."

Hopkins, however, maintained that the new plan keeps the spirit of the old tradition.

"Students talk a lot about tradition at Dartmouth," Hopkins said. "We want to honor the traditions of the past but put a spin on them so they work with the current state of affairs."

Head football coach Buddy Teevens '79 expressed approval for the structured field-rush.

"My sense just historically, as an alum of the College, is that it's not just a football game. There's a lot more activity and social opportunities involved," Teevens said. "So if it encourages greater participation among the freshmen class, it's a plus."

The real test of the College's plan will come on October 20. Nina Maja Bergmar '11, for her part, will join her classmates on the field.

"I'm part of the '11s and whatever we do, I'm up for it," Bergmar said.

Other freshmen, however, may be less receptive.

"Now we really are the worst class ever," Shelley Maithel '11 said.

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