My name is Andy Furillo, and I am a 21-year-old senior here at Berkeley. I have been an avid Cal football fan since I was a toddler and have been a student season ticket holder every year I have been at Berkeley. As I prefer to remember and analyze the games, I do not drink prior to entering the stadium. However, having had to enter through the student gate during my years here as a student and observing the way students are treated there, I am disturbed that the school paper would decide to essentially advertise the police’s treatment of students entering the stadium, rather than be critical of it and push the cops to act respectfully and honestly.
A couple of years ago, when we hosted Colorado, I was interrogated by a UCPD officer (K. Lu) when entering the stadium. I had not had a drop of alcohol prior to the game, but the officer felt the need to pull me aside because I had worn my prescription sunglasses on a bright, clear day. He then claimed that I had red eyes — I am not sure if they were actually red, though it is possible since I do have allergies — and saw that as enough evidence to administer a breathalyzer test. I blew a .007 percent, likely the result of having used mouthwash before the game, but solely because I was 19 at the time, Officer Lu believed that this was a violation of the student conduct code and referred me to the process described in your op-ed. I planned on fighting the case, but after learning that, despite the farcical charges, it would be a tedious, drawn-out and stressful process, I decided to sign the sheet admitting fault so that I could put the whole thing behind me and focus on midterms, papers and my social life instead of a useless student conduct case.While the student conduct officer, Jeff Woods, agreed after much debate to not enforce the alcohol counseling requirement, I was still given the mandatory warning and fine administered for all football violations (which was $100 at the time, I guess it’s been raised since) for being a 19-year-old who uses mouthwash! I was ensured at the time that the warning would not appear on my student record.
Last spring, I decided to email a number of university officials, in an effort to push for the removal of student gate policies prior to the team’s return to Berkeley. My emails were eventually directed to a polite student conduct official. However, what I found out was surprising. Despite the student conduct office’s previous assurances that the warning would disappear after a semester, the record of the incident was still very much there, and any graduate school or employer doing a background check would have been able to see that I had a violation. Your op-ed seems to be mistaken in calling the first-time warning “nonreportable,” as, according to the student conduct officer, apparently my warning was very much reportable. To make this clear: apparently, mouthwash = student conduct record. Fortunately, the official agreed to clear my record, though it was not in her power to refund the fine. The $100 remains with UCPD today, likely funding continued exploitation of innocent football fans similar to myself.
I have done some research to see if other universities are as harsh on their football fans as Cal is, but was unable to find anyone with a comparable policy. The only other universities that administer breathalyzer tests at the entrance only do so to students who have previously been kicked out of a game for unruly behavior. They do not do so to students without a conduct record who are wearing sunglasses. I feel that the Cal administration, short on money, is using the student gate to try and make up their budget deficit, at the expense of football fans just trying to enter the stadium and enjoy the game. As I do see many drunk fans inside the stadium, the enforcement seems to be more about finding random people to make money off of, regardless of whether they have committed any crime, than actually targeting fans who could cause a problem.
At our home game against Oregon in 2010, a drunk student who presumably had no trouble getting past the student gate cops kept falling into my back as I was trying to watch the game, and appeared to be on the verge of throwing up. I would guess that there is a quota number of students that UCPD is required to fine every game, to ensure they meet their budget, but whether the fined students are actually a threat, or whether potential troublemakers enter while the cops are focused on writing up someone with a minimal blood alcohol content, does not seem to be important. Fan safety does not seem to be the objective, but rather money.
Being an attendee of many sporting events, including numerous games played in other countries, I have never seen any stadium entrance nearly as strict as the Cal Student Gate anywhere in the world. While rich alumni in Berkeley are treated to luxury suites and comfortable, shady seats, our hard-working students — the fans who stand the whole game and make the most noise to help our defense when the opponent has the ball — are the only fans entering the stadium subjected to mandatory Transportation Security Administration-style pat-downs and random alcohol testing. The experience I had two years ago, along with the general demeanor of UCPD and Landmark Security officers patrolling the student gate, has affected my allegiance to Cal football as a whole, and has made me question whether I should buy season tickets after I graduate. When entering the Nevada game a couple of weeks ago, I saw numerous students being interrogated by police officers, many of whom had probably done nothing wrong, in plain view of other fans. Entering through the student gate has become comparable to going through airport security, or even taking a tour of the Korean Demilitarized Zone, which does not shed a good light on Cal Athletics. Thus, I was very surprised that your op-ed piece seems to come out in favor of current policy. I wish that your paper would push to restore sanity and make the student gate an ordinary stadium entrance, rather than a place where students are treated as criminal suspects.
Andrew Furillo is a senior at UC Berkeley.
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