The Monon Bell football game is always the highest-attended game of the year for both Wabash College and Depauw University. Ensuring that students, alumni and others have a fun, but safe, experience is paramount.
“Be smart,” said Wabash’s Director of Safety and Security Buck Waddell. “We don’t want anybody to get hurt. We want to have a great celebration when we win the Bell back. Be smart during the game, and after the game when we win.”
Historically, Bell Week has created situations on both campuses that affect the experience of spectators and students. From Bell heists to hostile on-field moments and even tailgates, this week induces the most headaches for safety and security officers. This event is the largest of the year in Crawfordsville.
“We have seating for 8,000 people in the stadium, but we probably have another five or 6,000 that show up to tailgate and party and enjoy the festivities,” said Waddell. “We know it’s a major college rivalry.”
Last year, DePauw students and alumni rushed the field as Wabash players, coaches and administrators were still on the field. Tensions ran high, but nothing problematic happened at the time.
“The ‘rushing the field too quickly’ was because [DePauw] had a horrible security force,” said Waddell. “They did not have a law enforcement presence. The guys who were there were a lot of teenagers and younger kids. Working as security is not the same as the law enforcement officers that we will have here. This is not the first time that we’ve used law enforcement officers. They’re well trained, they’re well disciplined and their job is not only to protect both teams on the field, but really to protect our fans in the stands from hurting themselves or hurting others because people do get excited and exuberant and might have a little bit too much to drink. They’re here to protect all of us, but they’re not here to handcuff people and lead them out. That is not their job.”
In the case of a Wabash win, being cognizant of DePauw and allowing their staff to get off the field before rushing the field has been emphasized to the student body. However, this shouldn’t deter students from enjoying all that the Bell Game has to offer.
“As a player myself, I love seeing the students getting rowdy,” said Student Body President Cole Bergman ’24. “It’s Bell Week, and we all want to have fun and cheer on the team. I encourage students to have fun responsibly. The last thing we want is for people to get injured or kicked out of the stadium.”
Bell Week leads to antics between the two schools, and this year was no different. Here at Wabash, students are guarding important areas on campus including the Chapel, the Senior Bench, and the Wabash College sign on the perimeter of campus.
“Be vigilant,” said Waddell. “I’ve said this all year; make sure that your residence hall doors are shut and locked and that there are no rocks propped in the doors of the fraternity houses. If somebody is not going to the game, ask them if they’ll walk through the house and pay attention. If people do see something, call us. We already have a normal person working on Saturday and we’re going to have six more people supplementing our staff at the game. People just have to be vigilant and guys around here understand that. If it looks out of place, then something’s going on.”
While being alert for safety and security concerns is important, students shouldn’t lose sight of the greater theme of this week.
“Make sure to show out, cheer on the team and have fun,” said Bergman.