On Penn State Hoops vs. Minnesota: An Open Letter To Bryce Jordan Center Security
Dear Bryce Jordan Center Security,
My name is Alysa Rubin. I’m a freshman, and although I haven’t been here for that long, I’ve been to quite a few events at the BJC. I saw the Jonas Brothers bring the house down back in September, Jason Aldean and Twenty-One Pilots tear it up in October, and I’ve been to more men’s and women’s basketball games than I can count.
However, I’m not writing to you to discuss the number of events I’ve attended, or the memories I’ve made. I want to bring the events that took place before Penn State men’s basketball’s game against Minnesota to your attention. The chaos that ensued before gates opened on Saturday was nothing short of unorganized and showed a lack of preparation along with a concerning disregard for common safety procedures. I have waited in the lines to get into Beaver Stadium, and I thought that a high-profile event such as the first sold-out men’s basketball game since 2011 would be better handled.
Unfortunately, I was wrong. As a student and spectator, I felt unsafe.
About 45 minutes before the gates opened, I arrived at Gate A of the BJC. I saw a few lines had already formed in front of the gates, but the lines dissolved into an unorganized sea of white-clad people. Alongside a couple of friends, I slowly entered the massive crowd that had formed. People were everywhere, trying to inch their way up to the gates without stepping on anyone. Many who arrived later than I tried to barge their way through, making the crowd even tighter, and upsetting other fans who had been waiting in the cold for longer. The students just in front of me almost got into a fight because another student pushed in front of them. I’m usually okay in crowds, but the lack of crowd control and the disorder made waiting incredibly stressful and unnerving.
When the gates actually opened, the crowd surged forward to go through the metal detectors and the semi-formed lines that had formed completely evaporated. People recklessly pushed and shoved. There seemed to be no form of authority to keep order, and it felt like everyone had to fend for themselves. Still, there was no crowd control in place, and the danger of someone being trampled was very clear and obvious.
I also noticed a major issue during the process of going through metal detectors. To me, it felt like students were rushed through the metal detectors to cope with the immense amount of people waiting to get in. At one point, I saw a student holding a laptop and charger above their head go through the metal detector, and I could hardly believe my eyes. If a student could bring a laptop computer through the metal detectors, what else could have hypothetically been brought in?
The crowds clearly impacted the security screening process, but the number of people overwhelmed the normal entrance procedures as well. When students entered the arena at the student entrances, only a couple of staff members were on hand to scan tickets. The pushing and shoving to get to the ticket scanner was so intense that I got swept up in the crowd and separated from the people I came with. The scanners were trying their best to accommodate the high volume of students, but they clearly needed to rush in order to keep up with the crowd flow. This stood out to me for a number of reasons, but primarily, it showed me that the staff seemed more concerned about getting people into the arena than properly scanning them in.
In today’s day and age, ramped-up security measures are an absolute must-have for any arena or show space. And it’s important to have proper protection plans in place so that fans are able to enjoy events without worrying about their safety.
I’ve been very fortunate that in my short time here at Penn State, I haven’t experienced any of these feelings at other events. However, with increasing attendance at home basketball games and continued success of the team, I feel that it is important to confront the issue before it grows worse.
The security system needs to be modified, if not completely changed. I’m worried that if crowds continue to overwhelm the security, someone is going to get hurt. I love this school, its athletics, and the passion of the students, and I want nothing more than to be able to celebrate our team and their accomplishments. If this issue is ignored, the fear that other students and I experienced on Saturday will only continue to grow. To make a change would benefit not only the students but the Penn State community as a whole.
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About the Author
As THON weekend approaches, a fundraising year like no other in THON history wraps up.
“Whether this team is a No. 3 seed or or a No. 4 seed, they’re going to have a real opportunity to be in the Sweet Sixteen. If you’re a Penn State basketball fan, that’s like the Final Four. That week of hype and attention gives a team a brand.”
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