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NDSP inconsistent with ‘Breytopia’

Staff Editorial | Friday, March 14, 2008

When NDSP ordered the students camping outside the Joyce Center before Notre Dame’s game against Syracuse on Feb. 22, they cited the “safety and security” of the students as the reason for asking students to leave.

Even though this is a legitimate concern of any university, there was apparently no concern for the safety of these students until this one game. Students participating in what has become dubbed “Breytopia” had already camped out prior to several games in this and previous seasons without incident.

Moreover, this abrupt change in policy has yet to be addressed directly by any University official. In fact, NDSP director Phil Johnson and associate vice president for Residence Life Bill Kirk both said they did not know why the students were not asked to move earlier in the season.

NDSP arbitrarily changed the enforcement of its policies for this one game. It has put students in an unfair position where they are forced to guess which University rules will be enforced at any given time.

But the rule itself is flawed. Outdoor gatherings are allowed for other events, including sleeping in cardboard boxes for Habitat for Humanity. Kirk said that students can apply for permission to camp out, but that Breytopia will not likely be granted approval in the future.

It is one thing to say that since the fans didn’t apply for and get a permit, they must be removed. It is completely another to be so inflexible as to say permission will not likely be granted in the future.

The safety and security issues have been proven wrong on other large campuses, notably Duke and Penn State. The most well-known example is “Krzyzewskiville” for Duke University men’s basketball. There have been no major incidents reported, and Krzyzewskiville is much larger than Breytopia.

The reason is simple: Duke understands that students want to support their athletic teams and works with the students to make this enthusiasm possible. It is regulated by Duke and the student government there, not harassed by campus cops.

Notre Dame should look to this as an example. This is not an issue to take a hard stance on; this is an issue that can be reconciled with a little work by both sides.

Give Duke a call. See how they handle the thousands of fans that camp outside Cameron Indoor Stadium. If Duke can keep the many Blue Devil fans safe, Notre Dame can work with the students and NDSP to protect a few dozen Breytopians.

Since University officials do not know why the sudden enforcement began, they should find out. When they do, they should work with students to get them back by the Joyce Center, supporting the team, in a University-supported way. No reason to abridge fan support during such a successful year to suddenly enforce a rule – for no apparent reason