Friday, October 03, 2008

Every breath you take, every step you make... | by Pat

We'll get to the Stanford preview shortly. But before we do, there is another topic that also deserves mention today.

If you read other ND sites than just this one, you have no doubt seen issues of tailgating and alcohol consumption at Notre Dame come to a boil this week. Students, alumni, and fans have been sharing stories of overzealous enforcement in the tailgating lots prior to games or in the stands, unnecessary undercover tactics, ushers being chided for not finding enough drinkers, and the use of lifetime campus bans for those who are kicked out of the Stadium. No doubt the questions surrounding the excise police raid on the student party this past weekend play into the rising feelings of disgust and anger.

We are extremely disappointed by the stories of ill treatment of our students, alums, and fans by those patrolling the tailgating lots, especially as most of the enforcement is invited and encouraged by the University. Sadly, we do not believe these stories are isolated. Having been ND tailgating veterans for quite a while, we've seen the heavy hand of the law in action on campus, and the adversarial police presence is incongruous with what should be a relaxed and fun atmosphere leading up to kickoff. Anybody who's been a frequent tailgater knows what we're talking about, and have no doubt been privy to any number of stories similar to the ones linked above.

We encourage you to read the linked items above to understand how and why these issues are coming to the forefront at this time. For those who will be tailgating this weekend -- and for the rest of the year -- there are a few things to keep in mind.

• First off -- and this goes without saying -- don't mouth off if questioned about your drinking. Even if there are a few members of the tailgate patrol force who might relish busting ND fans, provoking law enforcement doesn't do any good at all. Enjoy yourself while tailgating, but be smart and don't give the enforcers any extra reason to accost you. We don't feel sorry for anyone that invites trouble.

• Second, take pictures or video of what you see and hear. We know that many people, especially those who spend most of their tailgating time in the not-surprisingly cop-free Stadium Lot and corporate tents, will read these stories and be skeptical. If you see something that strikes you as unnecessary or over-the-top, take a picture or quick video clip. Aggressive and unnecessarily antagonistic behavior needs to be exposed and broadcast widely.

• Thirdly, if you are questioned or arrested, know your rights. Take a look at this handy card on What To Do If You're Stopped by the Police, and take its suggestions to heart. Again, there is no need for an "us versus them" mentality with those tasked to protect and serve, but you should also not be ignorant of your rights in such matters. Noting names and ID/badge numbers of law enforcement will help weed out any bad apples that may be giving the rest of the patrol force a bad name.

• Lastly, if you believe you have been treated unfairly, let Notre Dame know about it. Go straight to the top (i.e., Father Jenkins' office), and relate the facts, in writing, as accurately and as dispassionately as you can. We know for a fact that his office takes these complaints seriously and will listen to your side. Sadly, we cannot say the same for the Coordinator of Stadium Personnel nor the Office of Student Affairs. So go to the top -- and feel free to copy us or NDNation on your correspondence.

Admittedly, the odds of you being harassed or banned from campus for life are low, so have fun at the game tomorrow. But the fact that this many stories are coming out, including those from people that Jay and I know and have met, is indeed troubling. So keep an eye out while at the game. As far as we're concerned, there is only one lifetime campus ban that should be enforced this weekend.