The 140-mile trek to Boston and the announcement of a no-alcohol policy at the tailgate seemed as if they might spell the death of the Harvard-Yale game last year. After an announcement from the Council of Masters last October that it was discontinuing subsidized transportation to The Game, many discouraged students were left uttering refrains of “at least Princeton matters.”
But The Game survived — thousands of Yalies made the trek north on trains and student-rented buses. The real change in student behavior last year came at the annual Princeton-Yale game the weekend before, which attracted a much larger crowd than it had in recent years. Now that the Harvard-Yale game has returned to New Haven, however, students interviewed seem less enthusiastic about this weekend’s matchup with the Tigers — although it is unclear whether that is because the game is in New Jersey or students are simply less excited about the game.
An informal Nov. 7 poll of 139 students conducted by the News in the Pierson and Davenport college dining halls indicates that the Princeton game will be less popular than last year. Out of those surveyed, only 10 said they were definitely attending the Princeton game, nine said they were undecided and 120 said they would not be attending.
Students cited the cost of transportation and the distance to Princeton as reasons for not going.
The results stand in stark contrast to last year’s numbers. According to the News’ investigation, 61 of those surveyed said they attended the Princeton game last year, and 78 students said they did not — a number that may be artificially high because of the inclusion in the survey of freshmen, who were not enrolled last year.
For last year’s Harvard game, Francisco Liquido ’08 and Louis Gresham ’08 rented Peter Pan buses under the auspices of Associated Student Agencies Transit, a new student organization they formed to arrange transportation to Cambridge.
Liquido, who helped organize a similar service to Princeton this year, said he doubts that many students will make the journey to Princeton this weekend.
“Hopefully a lot of students will want to go,” Liquido said. “The reason we’re offering it this year is because Yale is undefeated. … [The Yale Student Activities Committee] came to us with the idea to provide this service, expecting approximately 100 to 150 students to use it.”
Of the 10 students who said they would be attending this year, only one said she will be using the ASA Transit service.
Daniel King ’10, who will be attending the Princeton game with the Yale Precision Marching Band, said he worries that the $35 price tag for the round-trip bus ride may deter some Elis who would otherwise show up to support their team.
“Given a choice between spending $35 to go to Princeton and staying here for the day, I can see a lot of people not taking advantage of the buses,” he said.
Other than convenience, there is little incentive for students to use ASA Transit, given the comparable cost of other methods of transportation, King said.
But football team member Daniel Sica ’08 said he hopes this year’s game will attract as many students as last year’s.
“I think that for a three-hour bus ride, a $35 ticket is reasonable. … Hopefully the Princeton turnout will be as big this time,” Sica said.
Liquido said he thinks the fact that the game is in Princeton, rather than the price of a bus ticket, will ultimately be what dissuades students from showing up.
At least two residential college student activities councils have decided not to host tailgates at Princeton this year, although most residential colleges put on such events during last year’s game at the Yale Bowl.
Dallas Hansen ’10, a member of Timothy Dwight College’s SAC, said TD students did not express interest in traveling to Princeton.
“A lot of people have papers due before break, and we just didn’t feel there would be a whole lot of attendance,” Hansen said.
Branford College SAC Co-Chair Colin Leatherbury ’09 said Branford also will not have a tailgate at this year’s Princeton game, and Davenport College Council member Steven Miller ’08 said Davenport is not planning a Princeton tailgate either.
“We weren’t sure there would be enough people going down to warrant a Princeton tailgate, so we decided to spend the extra money on the Harvard one,” Miller said.
With Yale students’ needs in mind, ASA Transit has decided to expand its offerings this year, Liquido said. The student-run company will now provide shuttle services to and from Hartford’s Bradley Airport during the Thanksgiving, winter and spring breaks.