Saturday, April 26, 2008

UPenn decides not to construct 'spite fence' high atop Franklin Field south stands

University City--The University of Pennsylvania has finally decided against constructing a sight-obstructing wall at the top of the south-side bleachers in Franklin Field. Several months ago, a collection of university officials, with tremendous influence at the school, called for the fence to block the view from neighboring Penn Tower in order dissuade "rowdy undergraduates" from congregating on the roof to take in athletic events at the adjacent historical stadium.

Since Penn Tower's construction in 1975, students, visitors, and UPenn Health System workers have gathered during athletic events, especially the Penn Relays and Penn football, to watch from the highest floors or even the roof.

"We came up here for the Harvard football game last year. We sneaked a grill up the elevator and had a whole party up here," said senior Will Copperman. "The grill ended up being tossed over the edge and smashed on the sidewalk."

The building houses offices and clinics of the University of Pennsylvania Health System. "It's a tricky situation because the building's occupants are part of the university and so too are most the freeloaders that take in the stadium's athletic events," said Hannah Chormanc, student relations coordinator.

"It's not fair," claimed Riley Stern-Smith, in town for the Penn Relays. "I paid over $500 for this ticket, meanwhile they can sit on the roof and barely make out the athletes for free."

Many have compared the dilemma to the situation at Chicago's Wrigley Field. There, Cubs fans make the journey to the top of the Sears Tower and the John Hancock Building to take in Cubs games via telescope or binoculars and are charged a fee. The fee system was also discussed at UPenn, but this would not eliminate the dangers of the gatherings.

Another problem with Penn Tower is the tradition of throwing toast during Penn football games. Several people on the ground have been hit and injured by flying toast tossed from the rooftop of the Tower. "This is a big reason this has to stop," said Chormanc.

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