Are rules really that sacred?

There has been much brouhaha surrounding an incident that occurred last weekend. Buses for a formal sponsored by a University club were kicked off campus, leaving the students planning to attend the event with no way to get to their destination, a club in downtown Philadelphia.

The University justified its actions by saying that unauthorized buses have never been allowed on campus; they cited concern for students’ safety a top priority in this rule. If this is the case, the University was certainly not thinking about the students that Friday evening. By forcing the buses off campus, Villanova forced the students to come up with alternative transportation when many of the club-goers were already intoxicated. Those few sober attendees would have had to pack numerous people into tiny cars in order to transport them, another potentially dangerous situation (and one that is too familiar to Villanova students).

The University has a procedure for clubs organizing off-campus events to arrange transportation, which involves notifying the Office of Student Development and Public Safety. Supposedly, no unauthorized organizations (for instance, underground fraternities) will be allowed to have buses on campus. This is certainly an understandable and respectable policy.

However, this policy is not always enforced consistently. Twice each year, buses arrive in Pike Lot to drive students to the Villanova-LaSalle rugby game at the LaSalle pitch. However, the rugby team is not officially associated with the University. While obviously the intention of policy is not to create animosity between the various student organizations, it is hard to understand why one group gets away with it and others don’t – consistency would be nice. Still, just because one group has subverted the University’s policy, this should not give others free rein to do the same.

But the University made an unwise decision when it decided the night of the actual event to inform the organizers that the buses could not pick up students anywhere on campus. It left many students in a potentially dangerous situation, with few safe options for transportation. Sure, they could have called off the formal, but is that honestly reasonable? Why not reprimand the event organizers at the time and potentially fine them later? Maybe it was an honest mistake on the organizers’ part. Even if it weren’t, this is no reason to punish students who bought tickets in good faith and to risk putting them in hazardous settings.

The University’s actions that night did more harm than good. If the administration wants to encourage responsible decision making, then perhaps they should practice it themselves.