College to strongly curtail students running laps around Homecoming bonfire

by The Dartmouth Senior Staff | 10/2/18 9:43am

The College has announced changes to the annual Homecoming bonfire, meant to assuage the town of Hanover’s concerns about safety and secure an outdoor activities permit for the event. Hanover announced in May that it would not grant a permit unless the College improved the event’s safety.

One of the biggest changes is to the practice of running around the bonfire. In past years, classes would run the same number of laps around the bonfire as their class year, or 100 plus their class year. Now, students arriving on the Green will be allowed to run one lap around the bonfire before going to Dartmouth Hall for a class photo. If students attempt to run more laps, or if they attempt to touch the fire, they will be subject to disciplinary action. A College press release notes that such punishments have been as harsh as a year’s suspension in recent years.

In addition, the bonfire itself has been redesigned to be shorter and squatter, lowering its center of gravity to increase its stability and the likelihood that it will collapse inwards. The changes were made by a working group chaired by engineering professor Douglas Van Citters ’99 Th’03’06, convened by the College in June.

The event will also be designed to be visible to more of the audience than in the past. In addition, the bonfire will now be lit before students arrive on scene, and will no longer be lit with diesel fuel.

The press release notes that if these changes are not successfully implemented, the bonfire may not continue in future years.

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.