UA on watch for vandals

UA on watch for vandals

Ashanka Kumari

In the past year, rival fans have vandalized the Alabama National Champion coaches’ statues on the Walk of Champions.

In November, a Cam Newton No. 2 Auburn jersey was duct taped to the Paul “Bear” Bryant statue outside of Bryant-Denny Stadium. More recently, a purple cape was found tied around the neck of the Nick Saban statue.

Similar events have taken place at other rival schools.

When UA fan Harvey Updyke poisoned the historic oaks at Toomer’s Corner in Auburn last year, campus security increased, said University President Robert Witt.

“For a brief time, there was some additional security,” Witt said. “There were additional patrols, and I believe some of our portable security cameras were located at various points on campus.”

Toomer’s Corner is most notably known as the epicenter of celebration after victories at Auburn University, during which fans line the trees – which are believed to be more than 130 years old – with toilet paper.

Neal Ward, a senior majoring in operations management, said the pranks are ridiculous.

“Personally, I’m all about a little rivalry, but Harvey Updyke showed us that this can go way too far,” Ward said. “This isn’t a war. These are schools. Yes, I enjoy football and hate Tennessee as much as the next guy, but at the end of the day, whether I graduate from my university of choice is what matters. This, putting capes and jerseys on statues, poisoning trees and whatever else, is just ridiculous.”

In February, Witt stressed the importance of the detachment of the event at Toomer’s Corner from the University. He said that according to University records, the man is not connected to the University in any way.

Logan Clark, a senior majoring in kinesiology, said she thinks the vandalisms and pranks are immature.

“We aren’t in high school anymore,” Clark said. “We are supposed to be mature individuals, and rivalry pranks are not [mature] at all. It’s petty, and if anything else, it doesn’t throw the player’s games off. In the end, it just makes them angrier and want to beat the opposing school even more.”

Despite recent actions, no additional changes have been made to security around the Walk of Champions.

“UAPD is prepared for the large crowds that all home football games bring to campus,” University spokesperson Cathy Andreen said. “While we cannot discuss specific security measures, security and video surveillance around the stadium and the Walk of Champions are not new and will be handled appropriately this weekend.”