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Fumbling The Game

This is a Game-changer.

In an email to the student body, Dean of Students Katherine G. O’Dair reported that the Athletics Department is instituting new rules for obtaining tickets to the anticipated Harvard-Yale football game — known by fans as “The Game.” While undergraduates still get one free ticket, this year The Game will be played at Fenway Park. As a result of Fenway policies, there will now be assigned seating. In addition to this drastic change, students must now go across the river to pick up tickets from the Athletics Box Office until two days before the pick-up period is over, when they will be available at the Smith Campus Center. Most students who spoke to The Crimson have been dissatisfied with the changes, and so are we.

The fundamental reason many students go to the Harvard-Yale is not to watch football. Rather, it is to relax with friends, mingle, and celebrate the coming Thanksgiving Break and end of semester. This universally festive atmosphere makes The Game a great social equalizer and inclusive social space — something that the College is often sorely lacking. We are thus disappointed that the changes implemented by Fenway Park and the University will make it challenging for students to sit with their friends, and that so much confusion has been added to what should be a straightforward process.

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Harvard students wanting to sit together with friends are now forced to coordinate a time and date to make the trip to the Smith Campus Center or the Murr Center together to pick up the tickets, something highly difficult to coordinate given varying course and extracurricular schedules. Additionally, Harvard-Yale is almost definitionally a time for students to mingle with Yalies and students from other universities — a prospect which these new policies have all but done away with.

To add to the logistical confusion, that there are only two locations on the entirety of Harvard’s campus (one of which is only offering tickets for two days) makes picking up tickets far more difficult logistically. Moreover, for the vast majority of the period in which students can pick up tickets, doing so will require an unnecessarily long commute. This could easily be fixed by distributing tickets in more centralized locations such as the Smith Campus Center or house dining halls.

In previous years, Harvard has provided a guest ticket program for its students, which allowed students to purchase extra tickets for $55 to $75. With the new change in venue, the guest ticket program has been discarded so that students can only purchase tickets directly through the Athletics Box Office. Yet tickets for the game have been on sale since April and are now sold out. Students interested in bringing guests are forced to look to other online ticket exchange sites, where tickets are being resold for up to $300.

On top of all of this, transportation to the game is sure to be a logistical nightmare. With the game all the way at Fenway, students may have to catch the T or use a ride-sharing app to get there, whereas before they could have just as easily walked a couple of blocks to Harvard Stadium. We anticipate that Uber and Lyft will be flooded with ride requests, driving up prices and causing massive delays. The distance not only proves to be an inconvenience, but also a major safety issue as students who consume alcohol before the event will now be forced to make the long journey to Fenway. Even if the University provides buses, organizing such transport is sure to be difficult and costly.

Our safety concerns do not end there. Since The Game is not on campus, students are more likely to be intoxicated in presence of Boston police. The College has not yet clarified how its amnesty policy applies at The Game, and how to avoid risky scenarios where intoxicated students come into contact with Boston Police Department. Harvard should address this risk immediately.

These issues are serious ones, and to resolve them will require extensive prior planning. We urge Harvard to take action to ensure that The Game remains a source of stress relief, rather than additional headaches.

Clarification: Sept. 27, 2018

A previous version of this editorial stated that the University is implementing assigned seating for The Game. To clarify, the University is complying with Fenway Park's enforcement of designated seating.

This staff editorial is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.

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