Bus policy deters potential rivalry game attendance

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Courtesy of Richard Haas

Courtesy of Richard Haas

For the first time in four years, the Lehigh-Lafayette rivalry game will be hosted at Lafayette’s Fisher Field. This year, Lehigh students will be dropped off and will tailgate in a new location: Bushkill Commons Parking Lot.

Lehigh is providing bus transportation to Lafayette. The buses will arrive at 10 a.m. on Packer Avenue between Webster and Vine Street and will depart from Lehigh at 10:30 a.m. The buses will then arrive at Lafayette at 11 a.m. and will drop students off at the Lehigh tailgate area.

More than 2,000 Lehigh students bought tickets to the game. However, only 1,008 bought bus passes.

“(Interfraternity) Council presidents were not given exact game day rules and regulations until last Monday, Nov. 7, two weeks before the game,” said Mark DiMaggio, the vice president of the Interfraternity Council.

Clubs and Greek organizations had the option of renting Lehigh buses, as long as the bus was filled to capacity.

Bob Bruneio, the manager of transportation and transit services, said the Lehigh University Police Department will escort the buses to the game until they reach the highway. Once the buses get off the highway, the City of Easton Police will assist with the traffic lights until the buses reach the stadium.

Student groups also rented their own buses through third-party vendors.

“Any third-party bus that an IFC or Panhellenic chapter purchased was given the option to be included with the police-escorted bus convoy leaving Packer Avenue Saturday morning,” DiMaggio said.

Bruneio said the rental buses run into problems because they will cause blockage on the Lehigh and Lafayette campus.

The third-party vendor buses often, “pick groups up randomly over the city, so sometimes buses park in no parking zones, sometimes drop folks off where they shouldn’t be dropped off,” Bruneio said. “They don’t have any logistical information, and it’s roll the dice where they drop you off.”

Bruneio said student groups that want to ride in the caravan can contact bus transportation services and be considered part of the caravan as long as they follow Lehigh’s rules and regulations.

“There are limitations on the (Lehigh) buses,” Bruneio said. “When we check you in, we make sure our alcohol polices follow — no alcohol on the bus or no visibly intoxicated persons on the bus. We control (the bus route) from the start to finish and we return you efficiently — these are predetermined bus routes, predetermined stops, predetermined locations where (the Lehigh buses) go.”

The doors to each bus won’t open until a police officer checks students entering the buses. LUPD Chief Ed Shupp said after the students hand police officers their tickets, they will be patted down and their bags will be checked.

When Lehigh students arrive at Lafayette, the Easton Police will receive them.

We expect all Lehigh students to act as positive role models in the community and respect others, property and themselves,” wrote Chris Mulvihill, the interim associate dean of students, in an email.There are limits to the amount of alcohol that can be brought into the tailgate area, and students who are visibly intoxicated may not be permitted to get on the buses.”

The challenge for Lafayette is Fisher Field is located in the center of its campus, and this will make it difficult for parking access for non-Lehigh buses or cars.

Bruneio said students who do not join the bus caravan will be dropped off farther away from the stadium. Even for those who drive, he said parking will come on a first-come, first-serve basis.

“There is limited parking,” said Richard Haas, Lehigh’s assistant athletic director for sales and marketing. “It is not like Goodman Stadium where we have endless parking. It’s like (finding) parking on East Fifth Street.”

Andrew Foster, Lafayette’s associate athletics director for facilities and operations, said parking is scarce because Lafayette is a residential campus.

“We thought it would be convenient for the buses to be routed to Lehigh’s tailgate and Gate 4 where all the students and player passes can enter, which is not even 100 yards from the tailgate location,” Foster said.

Bruneio said the last Lafayette home game took 57 buses. Haas said this year, as of Wednesday morning, there are 21 Lehigh buses transporting students to the game.

After speaking with friends and other Greeks, a lot of chapter members are discouraged about going to the game,” DiMaggio said.

Shupp said if a student is removed from the game for behavior issues, they cannot re-enter and will wait to board the buses at the end of the game. He said if they are arrested, they may be transported to the Easton Police Headquarters for processing.

“Alumni tell us that the Le-Laf game is one of the top ten experiences of (Lehigh) student’s lives,” Haas said. “Students should make every effort to get to the game if they can because it is a memory they will never forget.”

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