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29 January 2014

Football task force has much to consider

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The Division of Student Affairs is creating a task force to address shuttle transportation to Sun Life Stadium as well as challenges with student ticketing. This has left many on The Miami Hurricane editorial board wondering what kind of “challenges” the university is really facing.

We’re worried that the administration may be attempting to fix something that isn’t broken.

Among the concerns are the “disproportionate increase in ridership returning to campus” and ensuring that “students are at the stadium to support their team,” according to a memorandum sent out by Patricia Whitely, the vice president for student affairs, who called for the task force.

The shuttle buses to Sun Life Stadium provide a safe and convenient transportation for a range of students. Freshmen residents benefit, but so do commuters looking to save money on gasoline and parking, as well as students without cars who just can’t find a ride.

Students pay a $138 annual athletics fee, and as such, are entitled to safe transport to and from our football stadium, which is a lengthy 22-mile drive away. It shouldn’t matter that more students are riding the buses back. Maybe those just want to leave before their driver does.

Beyond that, what is the harm in having more students who register for tickets than actually show up to the game? Maybe a student registered but decided to opt out.

If the task force chooses to limit the availability of buses in any way – whether by making return times closer to the end of the game, or by only allowing students to take the shuttle back if they rode it to the stadium – it may lead to dangerous outcomes.

The editorial board hopes that the task force will not ignore the fact that students drink at the game. Alcohol is sold within the stadium to individuals who are of legal drinking age.

For students who are unable to drive back to campus – because they are freshman, are under the influence, or simply want to leave the stadium earlier – the shuttles are the best option. Much like the Ibis Ride to Coconut Grove, the buses are a service offered by the university that promotes safety and responsibility.

A change in the busing policy will not lead to a change in the culture of football games and tailgating at UM. Students who want to tailgate will continue to do so, regardless of whether they’ve secured a ride back. And if the university fails to provide rides for students under these circumstances, it could lead to consequences, such as drunk driving.

College students don’t like to be forced to do anything. We no longer have to wait for a bell to release us at the end of the day, like we were in grade school, and we shouldn’t have to wait through an entire football game to return to campus safely if we don’t want to.

If the university is concerned about the poor lack of student support, the above changes won’t boost it. Students who usually leave early may not even attend, and there will be fewer students in the stands at the start of the game than the number that remain after halftime.

Ultimately, students will resent a new policy that introduces unnecessary complications. If it comes down to a choice between staying home and being trapped in the sweltering heat for more than three hours at a stadium that involves a nearly 45-mile round trip drive, many will opt to skip out on the football game entirely. So much for school spirit. Let’s just keep the options open.

 

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.