At Elizabethtown College, traditions are very well supported by the students. As October rolls around, we look forward to the Halloween events and the soccer game versus Messiah College. This game is a very popular event for Etown students. Every year, students attend the game with tons of Blue Jay spirit by wearing anti-Messiah shirts and bringing noisemakers and marshmallows. These three things are necessities for Etown students going to the Messiah soccer game.
Last year’s game was on the Falcons’ home turf; Etown students were allowed to sign up for buses provided by the College, and they were all filled up by the end of the day. Due to the problems caused by the “Muck Fessiah” shirts and marshmallows last year, the College decided to take an appropriate action for this year’s game.
Rules were sent out through an email from Dean of Students Marianne Calenda followed by Campus Connections. These rules stated that intoxicated individuals would not be permitted to attend the game, and noisemakers, marshmallows and “Muck Fessiah” shirts were prohibited. So, the questions are: are these rules a violation of freedom of speech? Are they destroying the traditions that the students are used to? Was it a good idea for the College to implement such rules? And did the students take part in the decision-making?
After receiving the emails sent out by the College, many students were devastated by the rules and decided to not go because it would not be the same as last year’s game. “I felt really bummed out. I’m a freshman and one of the biggest events I had heard about is the ‘Marshmallow Messiah Game.’ For the marshmallows to be completely removed, I felt like it was just another game,” first-year Jess Plue said.
Junior Jeroen Hooijboer was also not happy about the rules even though he did not attend the game. “It is most definitely restricting our freedom of speech. We should be able to wear whatever we want. It would have been more understandable to ban the shirts if they actually had inappropriate words on them,” he reasoned.
When I asked a student senator about the rules made for the games, he said that they only had two options: to support the College or not. “They weren’t very specific about what we were voting for, I mean even if we say no, they would still do it anyway,” the anonymous student senator said.
The new regulations were decided by both Etown and Messiah. “We had some rather serious behavioral issues during the Etown versus Messiah men’s soccer game last year; so last spring, the Dean of Students, Director of Athletics and campus security officers from both institutions met to discuss strategies for improving game management at future contests, beginning with this year’s games,” Director of Athletics Nancy Latimore explained.
She also said that, “Nearly every high school and college in the country has stated rules for athletic events. Some of the policies that we have for athletic events at Etown are institutional, while others are set by our athletic conference and/or the NCAA.”
According to Latimore, this year’s crowd was well-behaved except for one student, and there was a small quantity of marshmallows thrown during the semi-final game. On the other hand, Plue said that she still saw intoxicated students and “Muck Fessiah” shirts. Plue also said that the game wasn’t fun, and she is not going to attend any games next year if the same rules are in place. Hooijboer suggested that there should be more security for the games to prevent and break up fights in the future.
In the end, what matters is that students can attend athletic games in a fun and safe way. And if the College is going to try out something new in terms of rules, they should let the student community know.