Another kind of team also will be at Snyder Family Stadium this season, but it plays by a different set of rules and regulations than the athletes on the field.
The K-State Police Department has created a special underage alcohol enforcement team to identify and arrest underage drinkers in the parking lots before and during football games. The three-member team was formed to decrease the number of students who are not yet 21 who drink anywhere on the grounds of the stadium, though specifically at tailgates. Capt. Don Stubbings said six students were arrested at the last home game against Missouri State, and the individuals were given notices to appear in court at later dates.
“Many disturbances in the stadium are drinking-related,” Stubbings said. “We have the officers out there to lower the likelihood of fights and damage to property.”
Stubbings said the task force will be at home games this season and will probably be around next season.
“We saw a decrease in the amount of visible underage drinking at the last game,” he said. “Hopefully that was due to a conscious effort by minors not to drink illegally and wasn’t just a matter of the fans hiding it better.”
Student response to the enforcement team is varied. Jared Rizzo is the president of Greeks Advocating the Mature Management of Alcohol, a greek organization that speaks out against underage drinking and encourages responsibility among drinkers.
Rizzo, junior in marketing, said he agreed with the cause but is uncertain of its effectiveness.
“I applaud the police department’s effort, but it might not be worth the trouble,” Rizzo said. “It would take a lot of cops to make a difference since many people get drunk before they actually get to the games.”
Students caught breaking the law were charged as minors in possession and received a fine. First-time offenders must pay a fine of $200, plus $135 in court costs, and will have their driver’s license suspended. Second- and third-time offenders will be fined $300 and $400, respectively, and will face longer license suspensions.
“I don’t think most students know how serious the consequences are,” said Katie Gatlin, senior in women’s studies. “This is a college town, so if people are drinking together and not creating problems for the rest of the crowd, I think they should just have to pour out their drink, rather than get arrested.”
She said underage students will either stop tailgating or find ways to avoid the enforcement team.
“There’s no reason for an entire task force to keep things under control because the pre-game scene is already under control.”