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Victory bonfire won’t burn John Harvard in effigy

In response to student concerns regarding the burning of a human figure, fuel for Sunday’s bonfire will not include an effigy of John Harvard and likely will not include a Yale bulldog. The bonfire celebrating the University football team’s victories over both Harvard and Yale will take place Sunday evening at 7 p.m. on Cannon Green.

“We have yet to figure out what will replace [the figures], but it will not be anything that represents a human,” USG social chair Carla Javier ’15 said. Javier is a senior writer for The Daily Princetonian.

The decision was made after various students expressed their distaste for the burning of a human-like figure. Although at this time it is not clear what will be placed on the bonfire instead, there are proposals to burn a large “Y” and “H” instead, Javier said.

In previous years, only the football team captains have participated in lighting the pyre. This year, other members of the athletics program will pass the torch around the ring surrounding the bonfire before the fire is ultimately lit by football team captains Phillip Bhaya ’14 and Caraun Reid ’14.

The logistics of the bonfire have been coordinated by USG, the class councils and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students since last week’s victory over Yale. USG will contribute $7,000 to the project’s budget, and it is anticipated that the remaining half of the cost will be contributed by the University Alumni Association, the Department of Athletics and the class councils.

The ceremony will open with speeches by University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83, as well as members of USG and Princeton athletics, including the football team.

New safety measures have also been put in place. The exclusion zone around the bonfire will be moved 10 feet back, and pedestrian gating will be widened to facilitate movement toward the bonfire, according to William Drake, fire official for the town’s Bureau of Fire Safety & Housing Inspection. Drake explained that during the last bonfire, attendees were observed standing back from the gating due to the fire’s heat and that the changes would improve safety at the bonfire site.

“We expect it will be a well-run event like always,” Drake noted.

Both the Princeton Fire Department and the Rescue Squad will be present during the ceremony to respond to any problems that could arise.

“We have worked hand-in-hand with the University to plan out the event, specifically dealing with actually building the bonfire and what emergency services need to be there, and where they need to be placed,” Director of Emergency Services of Princeton Fire Department Robert Gregory said.

As per New Jersey fire code, untreated wood pallets will be used to build the bonfire itself, and fire starter logs will be used to help light the fire quickly. The Fire Department will also extinguish the fire and deconstruct the bonfire after the ceremony has concluded.

This year’s event will also include fundraising for victims of Typhoon Haiyan. T-shirts will be sold at the event, and the proceeds will be donated to organizations working to provide relief in the Philippines.

The University’s fire marshal, Scott Loh, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Clarification: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that the Department of Athletics also contributed funding to the bonfire.

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