In an effort to increase security, IU Athletics announced Thursday a clear bag policy for Memorial Stadium and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The new restriction comes at the recommendation of a New York-based security firm and will take effect for the first time Aug. 31 for the football game against Ohio State.
Unfortunately, the new bag regulations will be burdensome on attendees and encourage the use of plastic over more sustainable bags.
IU Athletics will now only allow people to enter with a transparent bag “that does not exceed 12"x6"x12", a one-gallon clear plastic freezer bag or a small clutch bag with or without a handle/strap that does not exceed 4.5"x6.5"."
This means that fans who want to bring a drawstring bag, fanny pack or purse into home football or basketball games will be turned away at the gate.
The Editorial Board understands the safety concerns that arise when a large number of people attend an event, but such a restrictive policy places an unnecessary burden on fans. Women who want to carry a purse into Memorial Stadium will instead have to either put all their belongings into transparent tote bags or carry a tacky, easy-to-lose clutch bag all day.
IU will be giving out free one-gallon plastic bags Aug. 31 for the Ohio State game to help fans adjust to the new policy, but this lends more concerns than solutions. If someone shows up to the door with a non-approved bag, they’ll have to transfer all their belongings into the IU-provided plastic bag before walking all the way back to their car or home to drop off their original bag.
Additionally, IU Athletics still plans to search clear bags at the gates. The goal of this new policy is to provide “enhanced public safety and make access more efficient,” but searching through transparent bags seems slow and redundant. The Editorial Board would rather IU continue the practice of searching through bags at entry without also forcing attendees to purchase a clear tote or shove all their belongings into a Ziploc bag.
This bag restriction also encourages a wasteful, needless use of plastic. Fans who enter Assembly Hall with a drawstring bag or purse will likely use those totes repeatedly, but making thousands of people use disposable gallon bags every home game will lead to tons of needless plastic waste.
Even assuming that as few as one in ten people would need a plastic gallon bag leaves us with nearly 60 thousand plastic bags each year. These bags will likely be thrown away after the game is over — that doesn’t look good for a university that heavily advocates for sustainability.
The Editorial Board would like to see IU Athletics reconsider the clear bag policy or provide a comprehensive plan for making such a restriction less environmentally wasteful. Bags should be searched at the door, but forcing fans to buy a clear tote bag, shove all their items into a disposable bag or go home doesn’t seem like an essential security measure.