Mike*, a junior, did not see the police coming. Underage, he was intoxicated, drinking while tailgating at the Miami vs. Charleston Southern game last Thursday, which took place at Dolphin Stadium – the University of Miami’s new home for football.
He was issued a notice to appear in court.
“I feel like it was unfair,” he said. “Everyone around me was drinking underage, and they did not get a ticket. Everyone was having a good time. We were not fighting or being violent. They should look for stuff like that.”
At that same game, tailgating festivities like this at Dolphin Stadium resulted in approximately 60 minors receiving notices to appear in court because of possession of alcohol, according to the State of Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (ABT). Overall, ABT issued 67 such notices during the game, said Alexis Antonacci, press secretary for ABT’s Department of Business and Professional Regulations. The additional seven were for either fake identifications or disorderly conduct.
Neither ABT nor Ricardo Hall, the dean of students, was able to give exact numbers for arrests at last year’s football games, although in 2006 the Florida A&M game resulted in 26 citations given to students. Hall said this year’s number was well above the number of notices typically given at games.
“ABT was not pleased at all with what they saw,” Hall said. “What these students demonstrated is not what we want to portray to the public.”
Possession of fake identifications is a felony in Florida.
According to Hall, ABT enforced the law equally at both games.
“The unfamiliar setting [at Dolphin Stadium] could have caused the increase making students act like there was no holds barred. Like there were no rules,” Hall said.
Mike felt differently.
“The cops were much more aggressive this year than last year,” he said. “It was like they were out to get us while at Dolphin Stadium. I feel it was more out of necessity last year at the Orange Bowl.”
A notice to appear is followed by a court date. The judge can issue a range of punishments including fines, community services and probation.
According to Hall, UM is not at fault for this rise in notices to appear.
“The university did a good job in communicating the behavior accepted at the game to its students,” he said. “Now it’s up to the individual student.”
Mike somewhat disagreed.
“Yeah, it’s bad publicity, but if they want to get rid of the bad publicity the university should tell the police to arrest less people,” he said.
Neither last year nor this year’s opening game resulted in any student being ejected from the game.
*This individual preferred not to divulge his last name.