By Noelle Ullery, Guest Writer
On Nov. 18, Xavier played against Indiana University, which was considered one of the bigger games of the season. With IU ranked No. 11 in the nation, this was a game I was excited for, especially as a senior.
However, the process of entering Cintas Center was hectic — to put it nicely. It was claustrophobic and unsafe — to be realistic.
Students were lined up as early as 4 a.m. to attend a game starting at 6 p.m. Lining up hours before a game begins has become a trend in students’ experience attending men’s basketball games at Xavier. While it can be a fun social event that promotes school spirit, it has created concerns regarding student safety.
The first incident of this occurred last year against Ohio State University. Given that people had panic attacks due to the pushing, trampling and overall insanity of the situation, I assumed something would’ve been done to prevent another stampede. But I was wrong.
This issue needs to be talked about. It needs to be addressed. It needs to be fixed.
So what exactly happened this time? Let me tell you.
As a rule-follower, I did not line up outside of Cintas until 7:30 a.m., as I heard Xavier University Police Department (XUPD) would be patrolling the outside area of Cintas to ensure people did not start lining up before then.
They did not.
Instead, they put a sign out that said no one should be out on the area until 7:30 a.m. They drove around a few times, saw people lined up before 7:30 a.m. and did nothing.
Obviously, there are people who believe rules don’t apply to them or who simply don’t care. If there are no repercussions, the rules are nonexistent. Unfortunately, this type of character cannot be changed easily.
So, I default to resolving the issue partly in terms of holding XUPD accountable.
XUPD needs to be proactive when there are home men’s basketball games. From my understanding, they have the ability to patrol outside Cintas and tell students to leave if they are on the property before the designated time. They should also put up barricades past the corner of Cintas to minimize the chances of students cutting, keeping the line more streamlined.
This issue goes beyond people disobeying rules, though. People were lined up appropriately around Cintas until the afternoon, as the “organized” lineup became a massive crowd of Xavier students. Numerous students cut ahead of those who had patiently waited hours before. Students lifted the barricades to make it easier for a mob to form and threw drinks at others for no reason.
There was pushing, shoving and yelling. Picture a less intense, smaller scaled South Korean Stampede. Thankfully there were no deaths, but the mob of students created a major claustrophobic environment to the point where some had to force their way out of the crowd so they could have space to simply breathe. Students should not experience panic attacks from trying to enter Cintas as a student.
XUPD was slowly reactive — instead of proactive — in mitigating the issue.
The other part of accountability lies in terms of clarifying X-Treme Fans responsibilities to students, as well as making it more feasible for conversations to occur between X-Treme Fans, XUPD,and any other relevant group to control the lineup.
I’d also argue for greater clarity in the responsibilities of X-Treme Fans regarding student experience. Managing student safety may be beyond their ability as a student organization, but they probably have some role in making sure students behave appropriately when waiting for the game and entering Cintas. More official organized lineups could help, like they’ve done for Crosstown or Villanova.
You can call me stupid for believing that XUPD would follow through with their words. You can call me naive for thinking no one would be lined up until 7:30 a.m. You can call me crazy to think that students wouldn’t push, shove and stay in a formal line when entering Cintas. But why is stupidity synonymous to expecting the bare minimum of safety and fulfilling one’s duties?
That is the bar at which our current political world excels. I would not expect that bar to mirror my experience trying to watch Xavier basketball with my friends.
Now, I’ve had a fair share of enjoyable memories at Cintas. I’m not trying to suggest no one has fun at Xavier men’s basketball games or that I’m never attending another game. But my desire for change is done out of genuine care and concern. Sometimes when you care about something, you’re willing to acknowledge the problems and flaws. Take it a step further and you put effort in suggesting effective solutions. That shows dedication.
Safety is a basic expectation when attending college. Fortunately, I’ve never felt unsafe when walking on campus or to my car in the evening, though that’s not to say other people haven’t. But it’s disappointing my safety concerns are rooted in attending an athletic event rather than a typical expectation of being mugged or harassed as a minority woman.
If you’re a non-student, you may be wondering — besides the social aspect and wanting a good seat — why are students lining up if they have a ticket? Indeed, you are assuming that having a ticket means you’re guaranteed a student section seat, as any rational person would think.
Logic does not work in this case. The athletic office oversells the number of student tickets, making it so lining up is the only way to get into the student section — or to attempt to, at least.
Therefore, the most effective solution would be to sell the exact number of tickets that fill the student section. People could still line up for the fun of it, but theoretically, there would be significantly less safety concerns because everyone with a student ticket would be guaranteed a spot in the student section. If the office wants to sell overflow tickets, they should create a system that denotes this when students claim their tickets online, and these overflow tickets should not be part of the general public ticket section.
We are a school that prides itself on “All for one, and one for all.” To put it nicely, I hope X will walk that talk better. To put it realistically, X needs to resolve this issue. After all, we wouldn’t want this to happen at our future football games.