By Danneisha McDole
Most fans entering Waldo Stadium for a Western Michigan University football game have the usual packing checklist for game days:
Game blanket? Check.
Spirit wear? Check.
Clear plastic bag? Whaaaaa?
Starting Sept. 1, Waldo Stadium established a clear bag policy to enhance existing security measures and expedite entry for all home WMU football games. The policy regulates the size and type of bags that may be carried into the stadium.
The clear bag policy was agreed upon by the WMU athletic department and WMU public safety this summer, said Matthew Kulik, the athletic department facilities assistant. The two entities meet on a weekly basis to go over security for every sport.
“This policy that came about was a conjunction of us and WMU public safety reviewing the best practices of stadium security that was prescribed to us by the department of homeland security,” Kulik said.
Up to 70 schools already have the clear bag policy, said Kulik.
Bags that are allowed in the stadium include clear plastic, vinyl, or small clutch bags with or without a handle or strap, and one-gallon clear plastic freezer bags such as Ziploc brand bags. Each bag must be range in size from 4.5 to 12 inches to be approved.
Clutches larger than a hand, or purses, duffle bags and backpacks are prohibited.
“I think we agreed on [the policy] in June and didn’t get the word out to people until football season started, so [we] sort of mentioned it in early- to mid-August and then after that first game at USC, it was passed around to everyone,” Kulik said, referring to a notification sheet about the new policy.
At least some fans thought the policy came about unexpectedly, since the notification occurred after the season began. Also, many fans didn’t know the reason behind the new policy.
“I do not like it. I feel it invades my privacy and it forces me to buy higher-priced things that I can’t afford such as water bottles and snacks,” Zaria Taylor, a WMU student said.
Kristin Keirns, the athletic department’s marketing, communications and engagement assistant, offered an explanation as to why the staff made the decision.
“Just throughout what’s happening in the world today, it was necessary and major to make sure that we’re making our venues safe and the safest that we can,” Keirns said.
There have been a mix of opinions from local citizens that attended the football games.
“In general, the policy does make sense because of our society unfortunately, with some people making poor choices,” Sydney Paw, a WMU student who attended her first football game of the season against Ball State, said.
Many fans have wondered if this policy is something temporary or if this will remain permanent. Keirns confirmed that for the time being, it’s the policy moving forward.
Zaria Taylor, a WMU student who attended the game against Idaho wasn’t too comfortable with this new policy where she felt they were taking drastic measures.
“I do not like it, I feel it invades my privacy and it forces me to buy higher price things that I can’t afford such as water bottles and snacks,” Taylor said.
Sydney Paw, a WMU student who attended her first football game of the season against Ball State agreed on this new policy.
“In general, the policy does make sense because of our society unfortunately, with some people making poor choices,” Paw said.
“If you go on homeland security website they have about 110-page document on stadium security and this is one of the highlights of that document which is the clear bag policy that they instituted at a number of other venues,” Kulik said.