Students should be allowed to bring backpacks into sporting events
Published: Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 22:10
Last April, the UConn women’s basketball team was playing in the national championship game and it was shown on a screen at Gampel Pavilion. The game was scheduled to start a little after 8:30 p.m., and I had had class until 8:15 p.m. I sent a message to the organizers asking if I would be allowed to bring my backpack in, since I was coming from class. I was told that they would be following standard athletic department policy and therefore no backpacks would be allowed in. As a result, I realized I would probably be unable to attend the live streaming unless I arrived late and missed part of the game. I had 15 minutes in between when my class let out and when the game tipped off, which was enough time to get from MSB to Gampel, but not to get from MSB to my dorm to Gampel.
As it turns out, my class ended early for unrelated reasons, and I managed to make it to Gampel on time. Had this not happened, I would have been forced to make the decision between skipping the end of class, missing the beginning of the game, or watching it on TV in my room. Prohibiting backpacks during basketball games in Gampel is a longstanding policy, and this year athletics extended it to soccer games as well. This forces students who have classes but want to cheer on their Huskies to choose between skipping the end of class to put their backpacks away in their dorm and miss the beginning of games for the same reason. This is a college campus, and students should be permitted to bring their backpacks anywhere they want, including to athletic events.
The main justification for prohibiting backpacks in athletic facilities is security. The backpacks might contain items which could endanger the safety of others attending the game. However, this could be resolved by allowing security to open and search backpacks, as they do with purses now.
Though this is time consuming, it could be efficient if only students with a valid ID were allowed to bring in a backpack, that would then be subject to a search. Non-students coming from off campus would probably have no reason to have a backpack in the first place. Even if they did, they could easily leave it in their car when they arrive. It is much harder for students to return to their residence hall after class before going to the game, especially if they live in residence areas far away from athletic facilities.
Realistically speaking, many students choose to skip class in order to attend athletic events in their entirety. While I do not condone this practice, there would be less need to do so if students could go directly from class to the game without having to stop in their dorm first. In fall 2012, I had a class in Laurel Hall two days a week, which ended at 6:15 p.m. This would leave me plenty of time to walk across the street to Gampel for a 7:00 p.m. basketball game if I was able to go straight there. Unfortunately, I had to walk to my dorm in North, put my backpack away, then walk back to Gampel. I planned on doing this for the men’s home opener against Vermont. Unfortunately, by the time I got to North and put my backpack away, there were less than 20 minutes until tip-off. It would have been tough to make it in time. I had to make a choice between missing part of the game but watching the rest in person and watching the whole game on TV. Ultimately, I chose the latter.
However, one student in my class left around 6:00 p.m. that night. When the professor asked him why, he said he was going to the basketball game. The professor responded that the game didn’t start for an hour and he could stay for the last 15 minutes of class. However, the student explained that he needed to put his backpack away in his room in Charter Oak and that walking there and back would take almost an hour. If he was allowed to bring his backpack into Gampel that night, he would have stayed for the last 15 minutes of class. Instead, he left early which negatively affected him academically.
This is a college campus and it is ridiculous to prohibit students from carrying their backpacks into certain areas. Students should be allowed to carry them anywhere on campus, including athletic facilities.