Hours before the kickoff of the Yale-Princeton game on Saturday morning, Yale athletics department officials discovered that some of the newly-painted Yale Bowl seats were covered in orange and black paint.
By the time the Yale Precision Marching Band reached the stadium to rehearse Saturday morning, the staff was almost finished cleaning off the Tiger-hued colors from the benches with fire hoses, YPMB manager Jenny Reisner ’07 said. Yale College Dean Peter Salovey said the paint was not completely removable and the seats will need to be repainted blue.
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“We don’t consider it a prank, however, but an act of vandalism,” Salovey said.
Athletics department officials declined to comment on the incident.
Band members said they believed Princeton students were responsible for defacing the stands, although the culprits have yet to be identified.
Drum major Ben Jorns ’07 said he believed the athletics department had gotten word of the prank between 6 and 7 a.m., suggesting that the painting may have been done the night before. Athletics department administrators informed him of the damage two hours before the 12:30 p.m. kickoff, he said. The YPMB’s section as well as a nearby section of seating had been damaged by the paint.
Reisner said that when she got to the stadium about an hour before kickoff, Bowl staff members were still busy cleaning the seats, apparently using hoses from a fire truck to power-wash the seats. They were not able to get everything off, she said, but she thought the facility looked significantly better by the time the first quarter began.
Despite the best efforts of the cleaning staff, Jorns said, he still took extra precautions to hide remaining evidence of the prank during the game. He said that since the band was particularly large for the game, he advised members to remain standing in order to block the paint residue.
“I don’t know who did it, but this definitely was more on the side of vandalism than a funny prank,” Jorns said.
Prior to the game, members of the Yale football team said they had noticed the paint but knew little else beyond what they could see.
“I didn’t know anything about it,” captain Chandler Henley ’07 said. “My focus is on winning the game.”
Band member Stephen Kappa ’07 said he also heard the rumor that some kids had painted the seats, but by the time he arrived at the Bowl he could not see the damage.
Though the colors of the paint matched their school colors, some Princetonians said there was little hype about the incident on the New Jersey campus.
“I’m virtually positive that not a lot of people know,” Princeton sophomore Abby Ludwig said. “There has definitely been talk about the game, and no one has mentioned anything about orange and black paint.”
Members of the Yale band remained upset about the damage.
“I have no idea who did this, but it made me really angry to see the Bowl in such poor shape for my last game there as an undergrad,” Reisner said. “ I think of pranks as being clever. This was not clever, this was pure vandalism.”