The athletic department decided to forbid bonfires on fields used by athletic teams due to recent problems clearing nails from bonfire sites.

This is a change from previous years when bonfires were traditionally held for special events such as Meliora Weekend. While there has not been a new rule passed regarding this issue, the athletic department will not allow any bonfires on the athletic fields until a better clean-up job can be ensured.

“We are not opposed to having bonfires,” Associate Director of Athletics Jane Possee said. “There just needs to be a better job at cleaning up.”

This issue came to the forefront following the bonfire held as part of Meliora Weekend.

“Pallets are used for the bonfires,” Possee said. “These pallets have nails. Then when the City of Rochester Fire Department hoses [the fire] down, the nails spread. Also, when the lawn is mowed the nails are spread even more.”

According to Special Events and Preventative Maintenance Manager Dave Butterbaugh, facilities crews clear the fields immediately following the bonfires. However, because the nails are spread across so much of the field it is difficult to clear them all.

The leftover nails are a problem because the ultimate frisbee, men’s lacrosse and rugby teams play on the field, located behind the Robert C. Goergen Athletic Center next to Gilbert Hall.

Of the teams that use the field Possee said, “The rugby team is the most vocal right now.”

Club Sports Council President and rugby president and coach sophomore Jonah Pozen said despite the effort on the part of facilities to clear the field of debris, many nails still remain on the field.

“We found over a hundred nails,” Pozen said. “Every week I find more.”

Nails left on the field are not the only problem with bonfires. “The bonfires also ruin the grass in the area,” Pozen said.

Both Pozen and Butterbaugh mentioned the idea of using a magnetic sweep to clear the nails off the field. However, according to Butterbaugh, no place in Rochester has such equipment available.

Officials are now trying to find a new location for bonfires.

“We want to put the fire near the activities,” Butterbaugh said. “We don’t have any place readily available right now.”

According to Butterbaugh, fires used to be held on the lawn in front of Wilson Commons. However, officials were informed there is a gas pipe underground in that area, which is why the bonfires were relocated to the athletic field.

Butterbaugh said they are looking at many possibilities to accommodate bonfires.

“We are open to working with student groups to figure this out,” Butterbaugh said.

Those teams who use the field are also trying to find ways to address these issues.

“The club sports council is forming a committee to improve athletic fields,” Pozen said.

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