At a past football game between the University of Miami and Florida A&M University, officers from Florida’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (AB&T) approached UM student Mike Monk, tapping him on the shoulder as he was drinking a can of beer. He is only 20 years old.
“I was cooperative,” Monk, a senior, said. “Getting arrested killed the mood for my friends.”
The AB&T cited and reported Monk to the UM administration. Then, they released him and he went back to the E4 lot outside of the Orange Bowl’s southeast entrance where students tailgate.
Monk met with a dean at the Office of Student Affairs on Sept. 28, who fined him $50 and required him to take an online drug and alcohol course.
Another 23 students were cited by the AB&T for underage drinking during the most anticipated game between the Hurricanes and their rival, the Florida State University Seminoles, according to the AB&T.
Monk said most of the students and alumni were drinking and dancing in the rain in the E4 lot.
“I was celebrating school spirit,” he said. “It was the most fun I ever had.”
James Fatzinger, an assistant dean of students, said 21 underage students were cited for alcohol violations during the game versus FAMU.
Evan Estrada, a junior, was cited for underage drinking at the FSU versus UM game.
“They should relax the rules a bit at tailgates at the Orange Bowl,” Estrada said. “They should only arrest people that are being public disturbances or people who are driving drunk.”
City of Miami police are stationed at the Orange Bowl to handle cases of drunk driving and disturbances.
“I’d rather see them have fun, not get arrested,” said Sgt. Luis Taborda of the Miami Police Department.
An alumnus calling himself Mike Suec, who attended the tailgating before the football game versus Houston mentioned he did not remember many arrests during the tailgates last year. He said he has noticed a larger amount of arrests during the last three home games especially during the first home game when he saw everyone was “really drunk.”
In contrast to the first two home games, the AB&T did not thoroughly scope out the E4 lot when UM played against Houston, and left right before kick-off.
Fatzinger said no students have had to go through the disciplinary hearings after the Houston game. Last year, Fatzinger said, the university followed-up with 25 students who had been arrested at football games.
Students who are arrested by the AB&T are not “taken downtown.” Instead, the AB&T writes a report and informs the university.
UM expressed concern for underage drinking in an e-mail edition of Ibis News, sent out on Sept. 29. Fatzinger said that the university also approved the posting of three flyers around campus with respect to drinking at football games.
Caitlin, a UM student who wished not to daisclose her last name because she is underage, described the AB&T to have a “Ha, gotcha!” attitude. She said that at the FAMU game, the students were booing the AB&T for arresting underage drinkers while one AB&T officer referred to UM’s loss to FSU in a sing-song fashion.
Caitlin, a junior majoring in business law, said she has consumed beer at this season’s home games in the tailgating area and inside the Orange Bowl, adding that she has not been arrested. She will turn 21 years old in mid-October.
At the Houston game, Caitlin said she used her real driver’s license to obtain a “legal drinking age” wristband from a check stand and was able to purchase and consume alcohol.
John Nuttal, the manager of Boston Culinary Group’s concession stands at the Orange Bowl, said all the employees are trained in handling the distribution of alcohol. Also, no employee can be under 18 years of age.
Walyce Almeida may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.