Virginia Tech Football vs. UNC

Players and fans cheer after Virginia Tech's 17-10 win against UNC, Sept. 3, 2021.

With college football back in full swing at Virginia Tech after a year-long hiatus on student attendance at games, many are excited to be back in the stands and jumping to “Enter Sandman.” Some students, however, have expressed concerns about safety and overcrowding during games when entering a full-capacity Lane Stadium. One petition, created after the Virginia Tech vs. Notre Dame game with over 500 signatures, calls for a more efficient way for students to enter the stadium.

“This system could result in serious injury and needs to be changed,” the petition read. “This change should allow for students to be able to enter from more than one gate. It should also call for less fencing.”

Abigail Cox, a junior and interior design major who created the petition, explained that she did so primarily because of her friend’s experience at the Notre Dame game, in which she suffered injuries while attempting to get into the stadium. Cox believes part of the problem is that there is only one gate available for students to enter through, causing dangerous levels of crowding.

“She (my friend) actually is suffering muscle and cartilage damage outside of her ribs, which is scary, you know? It's game day — it should be a day of excitement. It’s a big day,” Cox said. “My friend loves football, we all love football, we’re not expecting to go to Lane Stadium to get injured. It shouldn’t be a concern at all.”

Cox said that while she has not received any responses from university administrators after reaching out by email with the petition, the community reaction to her petition has been positive.

“I’ve gotten a lot of messages and people in person coming up to me and saying that they were glad that they had a place to share their voice,” Cox said. “Obviously the petition would be nothing without the 500-plus people that signed it.”

Older students who have experienced a pre-pandemic football game as well as more recent games have also shared their thoughts.

“I think it has been a little rowdier (this year), and I would attribute a lot of that to being cooped up for over a year and not having any live sporting events, so people kind of forgot how to act,” said Mitchell Parvin, a senior and forestry major. “Every time we have a big game, though — since we didn't have an issue during the Richmond game as far as I was aware — that’s when it draws the big crowds. At past UVA games that I’ve been to, big name games, there’s usually shenanigans going on.”

Preceding the Oct. 16 game against Pitt, Virginia Tech issued a statement about the “selfish, inappropriate, and embarrassing student behavior” at home football games, as well as outlining measures to improve game day safety. These included restricting student attendance to student ticket holders, limiting the number of ticket lottery winners, expecting students to follow all new guidance for entering the stadium and deploying law enforcement officers from the Virginia Tech Police Department within the stadium.

“This year especially, we have so much to be proud of with being back on campus and in the full swing of the semester,” the statement read. “But this is one area where we haven’t brought our best. Let’s change that starting Saturday and remind our community that we know and honor what it means to be a Hokie.”