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It's Worse Than We Thought

I'm not sure anyone thought the abuse and treatment of ND fans was this pervasive, but 50 stories later, it's obvious that it is. And I have to admit, I simply viewed this as ridiculous and over the top yesterday. But after reading so many stories detailing the same abhorrent treatment, it's obvious that the police are affecting people's lives. The worst part is that it appears to be about money. As one student reported, the police told them: "alright anyone with a credit card is free to go."

Want change? Call/write the development office (and cc Fr. Jenkins) and express your concern.

Want Inspiration? Read this story:

I never mentioned it, because I believed it was just a fluke instance of usher and police stupidity, but after reading here for the last day or so, it appears my experience is becoming the norm at Notre Dame.

For clarity, and those who don't know, I was wounded severely by a grenade blast in the invasion of Fallujah, Iraq. The right rear base of my skull ruptured internally, and I was left (after surgeries) with around 19 bone fragments in the lower parts of my brain, which are responsible for horrible vertigo and headaches most all of the time.

Anyway, twice since 2005 I've been able to get my doctors to clear me to go visit Notre Dame to see a football game. I got to see the green jersey ND / Army game in '06 and the Duke game last year. (On a completely irrelevant note, I've seen 12 ND games in person in my life. We're 12-0 in those games. You're welcome.)

I had one of my former soldiers from Iraq in town visiting, and managed to get tickets last minute to take him to the Duke game.

We got stuck in traffic, and missed tailgaiting completely, getting into the stadium with little time to spare. I'm not medically allowed to drink, and my buddy didn't have any time to do so, so we were stone sober. I did, however, have my prescribed vertigo pills in their official medical container from the VA in my coat pocket, and I had checked with the Usher at my gate to ensure it was ok as I was entering. I had explained my condition, and the need for the medication, and was thanked for my service, and told it was perfectly ok.

Fast forward to middle of the third quarter on a drizzly cold night, and probably getting a bit too excited about Robert Hughes' big game, and ND actually looking competant, and my vertigo issues flared up, and I was swooning a bit just as an Usher and a policeman were correcting some folks behind us about pushups in the stands. The policeman notices that I'm "intoxicated", and grabs me from behind by the neck (not real forcefully)and spins me around to face him. Couple things here. First, my neck is seriously screwy from the impact against the concrete wall in Iraq, so it hurt badly. Secondly, vertigo and being spun do not mix well, and I proceeded to vomit on his shoes.

He was not pleased, and hauled me physically into the concourse, where the pills took a dive out of my pocket, and the guy started accusing me of drug use. I was still busy throwing up, so I wasn't able to explain anything different.

My former soldier was furious about the way I was being treated, and lost his temper trying to explain my condition to the officer. The ND usher made a radio call sometime in this, and three more officers came and detained him.

I was finally able to speak as the officer moved to handcuff me, and told the initial officer to check the label of my medication, that I was a disabled veteran, and that my condition was flaring up, and I needed my medication to prevent it, and that he had made it worse by jostling me all over the stadium. He seemed to act as if I was full of shit, but the ND usher called it in over the radio, and apparently my gate usher spoke up that I had showed the pills at the gate, and my ID matched the label, ect.

The usher and the police walked off and had a huddle, and when they came back, the bad cop riff was replaced with falling all over themselves niceness and respect. My friend was released, and the ushers offered to take us down and find us a spot in the gold seats for the misunderstanding.

But by that time, I was horrendously sick, and my friend was no longer in the mood to be anywhere near Notre Dame, so we left the campus.

The story isn't probably any help to anybody, since I was too ill, and my friend was too hot-headed to even think about badge numbers or tunic numbers or anything to identify anyone or help the cause, but I wanted to share it now, since it's relevant to the discussion in some way.

This time of year, I'm usually pestering the doctors about allowing me to go back to ND to see the Irish play. Not this year, nor probably any year in the future if my wife has anything to say about it. She constantly reminds me that the officer could have dropped me on my head and killed me.

She's not much of an Irish fan anymore. She dimed ND out to my doctor as well, so I probably wouldn't ever get medically cleared to go again if I did try. I still thank God every time I think about it that she wasn't with me that day. She'd have probably clawed out an officer's eyes or something in defense of me, and done hard time for it.

Ah well, enough of that. I'm rooting for you guys to crush this bullshit from the bottom of my heart.

36 Comments:

Blogger The AB Esquire said...

I'm speechless. Very shortly into your experience, I knew this was going to make me sick because I knew almost certainly where it must be going. I'm so sorry for everything that happened to you. I thank you for your service. Just another outrageous story of NDSP and the Ushers on a power trip. I'm so sorry that happened to you.

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your service. I wish there was somenthing I could do. Or somenthing anyone can do have you reported this to the university? I would personally like to meet the cop myself.

4:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

let's keep in mind who the bad guy was here: the police officer NOT the usher. don't group them together. in my experience (minus their antics at halftime in the student section with the marshmellows) the USHERS have ALWAYS been polite, kind, helpful, and full of respect in regards to all guest at ND: friends/fans/alums of the school and those who are cheering for the team the words "welcome to notre dame" ring true...and the story told backs that up. It was the OFFICER not the POLICE officer who remained calm, cool, and collected during the incident. As a personal story my first ND game was against Stanford my jr. year of high school. I went with my grandfather (1939) who was wheelchair bound. After taking our tickets the lead usher escorted us to the elevator, past a bunch of people who were too lazy to use the ramps, and turned us over to another yellow vested gentleman who took us all the way to our seats, stopping to be sure my grandmother and grandfather were OK in the handicapped section first. Talk about the NDSP all you want and how assinine they can behave but please justify the hate against the ushers. they're mostly retirees and not quite in positions to stop a power-trip'd NDSP.

4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please, please come back to a Notre Dame game. I have found the ushers and civil security (now and in the past) to almost always say Welcome to Notre Dame. As for the conduct of the officer, it sounds like he eventually was appalled by his own conduct; as I am appalled by it. ND is a special place even for us non-grads that have followed them for 50 years because we watched Pat O'brien as Rockne when we were little. THANKS FOR SERVING OUR COUNTRY---ND FANS LOVE MEN AND WOMEN LIKE YOU THAT PUT SO MUCH ON THE LINE FOR ALL OF US. Don't let one man embarass us all. The other 60,000 plus would rather thank you for your service and give you our seat. ph

5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the last post. One person from each tailgater should have a video camera and film the officers anytime police come close to the tailgater. The person would have to be sober to avoid harassment from the officers. Officers are a lot less abrasive when a video camera is on them.

5:34 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

As a long-time ND faculty member, and proud member of this community, let me say how sorry I am that this happened. Obviously something is wrong here, and we'll get it fixed. But there's no excuse for you were treated, and let me apologize on behalf of our community.

No one should be treated with so little respect. But that it should happen to a person who sacrificed on our behalf adds to our humiliation. I'm so sorry. I only hope that I may run into you sometime in the future on this campus, and show you real ND spirit and hospitality.

6:29 PM  
Blogger Wooderson said...

Anonymous,

Go ceck out the posted Usher Weekly Newsletter. There is a focus on praising people for kiccking folks out, and there is a specific directive laid out to target sections 29 & 30, aka, the Juniors and Seniors (many of whom are legal by this point).

The cops may be on more of an ego trip than the ushers, but there is plenty of blame to be laid all around in this story, and no one is free from it.

7:20 PM  
Anonymous BigE said...

Follow the money. How much easy money will they get from fines from students and alumni versus real criminal element like crack heads?

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The police have completely gotten out of control at the games, as are some of the ushers. I saw an elderly man trip going up the steps and he was quickly ejected by the white cap in the section. I sat right behind him the entire game and he did not seem to have had a single drop of alcohol. Just because someone trips or stumbles does not mean that they are drunk. There are such things as accidents. I also witnessed two off duty police officers get into a verbal altercation that almost escalated to fisticuffs. One was a South Bend City police officer and the other was an Indiana State trooper. I'm sure it was thoroughly embarrassing for the trooper considering that one of the officers that came to break up the altercation was one of his superiors. During the altercation both men exhibited drunken behavior and they both threatened each other. The ushers handed the situation over to the police officers when it seemed like violence was evident and their punishment by the on duty officers was merely a stern talking to. How can people be arrested for simply tripping, but if they threaten and push each other they are just talked to? Something seriously needs to be done about these police officers.

7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you tell me how to access the Usher Weekly Newsletter?
Thank you.

7:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the reason for the emphasis in junior and senior sections is because after the previous 2 games there were numerous empty alcohol containers left in the stands.

8:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mom had a very similar experience to this at an ND game. She was detained by an usher and a police officer without charge and when she refused to sign a "confession" she was told she would be permanently banned from the stadium. I have also had several experiences where ushers were just downright rude to me when attending basketball games at the JACC. In my opinion most people I meet related to ND have an unwarranted arrogance and a seriously elitist attitude. I just try to stay away from the place whenever possible now.

8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I have never had the displeasure of running into the local law authorities at a regular season game, I have seen the general unfriendliness exhibited by SOME ushers, not all, but some. Case in point, my wife and I have gone to the past three Blue/Gold games. This last year we brought our son who at the time was 21 months old. I had purchased tickets for my wife and I as I had been told this year and the last that for this game kids under 3 are free. We went to go in for the game and we were met with a semi freindly usher who gave us the once over (between my wife, me and our two friends, we had consumed about 6 beers in the 3 hours prior to the game) and went thru our son's baby bag THOROUGHLY and even had us open up his sippy cup to make sure we weren't using that to bring in some spirits.

After that, I thought we were thru, but oh no, there was much ado about the fact that our son didn't have a ticket. I explained to the head usher who was now interrogating me that I understood kids under 3 were free. He then asked me how my son was. I said he doesn't even turn two until July! The usher looked over our son (as if he is a pediatrician and would be measuring him to see if his height and weight met the criteria for such a claim as I had made) before FINALLY letting us in. My wife and I were both like, that was very strange...I said, next year even though he won't be 3, I'll just pay the damn $12 extra to hopefully avoid this issue. Although next year, we'll probably we'll bring our daughter who will be 15 months! What to do....

Anyway, my point is that while there are some very friendly and nice ushers (as evidenced the year before), there definitely is a gestapo like mentality. I would like to think that for as much as the media and talking heads love to bash ND, that ND would be happy and helpful towards those raising future ND alums and fans alike.

8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the reason for the emphasis in junior and senior sections is because after the previous 2 games there were numerous empty alcohol containers left in the stands."

Beer cans? In the stadium? God bless those brave souls

8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have 2 stanford tix for any veteran. email me; pbradley28@comcast.net

9:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ushers and townie cops rough up a vomiting veteran in the stadium, and the only place to hear the story of this anonymous veteran is some fan blog?

I was skeptical from the start about all these stories of totally sober people who manage to trip at the most inopportune time. The Unknown Soldier, though is going too far.

RIght now, these stories are as believable as that one about the girl in high school with the hot dog, or the guy who stayed up late with his girlfriend in the dorm to talk her out of suicide and got busted for breaking Parietals.

All these stories might be true. But until we get attribution and corroboration, they're just urban legends.

I'll be tailgating at the Stanford game, and will see for myself how bad things are. But for now, I don't believe the hype.

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even if the stories are true, let's try to look at it from the ushers' and security's pov.

Every week they deal with intoxicated students, alumni and fans who leave areas covered in vomit, or who inadvertently injure others when they stumble and fall forward or backward in the stands. Go to any given dorm or one of the restrooms at the stadium, and you've got a fair to middling chance of not being able to use a urinal or toilet because of vomit. Investigate fights that break out in the stands, and alcohol is almost always a contributing factor.

Work for a university that can be a target for litigation if someone is injured at the stadium or on university property. Is it not reasonable that this university would expect you to be the front line in protecting it from liability? Not to mention that the university, in its student handbook, notes that it follows Indiana state law on alcohol consumption, and its security staff(as well as ISP) are expected to enforce the law.

I'm not surprised that, after years of working these areas, some of the ushers have a quick hook for folks who appear to be intoxicated. Having been at games before, during, and after I attended ND, I can remember many times when there were students or fans who had no business being in the stadium.

The exception proves the rule, however, and folks are bringing up the few times when an usher or security person overstepped their bounds, ignoring the times when they let things slide, or when someone who should have been removed wasn't.

If everyone behaved like adults, including responsible consumption and behavior, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Class of 78 said...

Wow, it takes a terrible story like this to draw attention to a problem that has slowly but surely taken over the tailgates and the stands at ND Stadium. I am so sorry for what happened to this man who served our country and paid the price and was treated so poorly at the ND game. This illustrates a guilty until proven innocent stance taken by the law enforcement authorities and the ushers at ND. I agree that out of bounds behavior has no place at ND but I enjoy a pint like the next guy and now feel as though I am being watched by big Brother in 1984. Last time I checked it is legal for adults to consume alcoholic beverages and enjoy a college football game doing the same. I have watched the level of enthusiasm cheering our teams on decrease for the last 30 plus years and now I can see why. The kids and the other fans are scared of being singled out and sent out to be breathalyzed. We need to have a a little common sense and deal with the problem people that upset other folks having fun at the game but don't penalize hard working fans and alumni who have a couple of cocktails and enjoy cheering for their team.

9:24 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

The last anon, who doesn't actually believe any of these stories, clearly works for either A) the Ushers or B) Bill Kirk.

Which sort of provides a decent segue into my next question. If Bill Kirk wants this crack down to make ND more of a family-friendly atmosphere, why didn't they just tell the media, "Hey, if you look even remotely drunk, we're going to bust you, so don't even think about drinking."

Is this the University higher ups trying to pass off blame? Clearly this isn't the work of a few heavy-handed ushers and the like, this smacks of Bill Kirk and Poorman.

So now its the University of No Drinking huh?

I for one won't be donating again until Kirk is fired.

9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everybody who feels strongly about this, here are links to contact the excise police, SBPD, and school administration.

Flood their inboxes. Do whatever it takes.

Excise Police District 1: http://www.in.gov/atc/isep/2461.htm

SBPD: sbpd@southbendpolice.com

Office of Fr. Jenkins: http://president.nd.edu/contact-us

9:33 PM  
Anonymous 70's ND Grad said...

There is no doubt that the University is going to the extreme to eliminate drinking by students based on what I have seen and heard from students on campus including my own two children who have or are attending the school. I understand there is a problem with binge drinking in colleges around the country and that ND is trying to counter this activity which is a noble enterprise. Unfortunately, they have gone way past the center and in their draconian approach have actually encouraged private small group drinking parties "tailgates" as they are called by students who chug vodka in their rooms before heading out for games to avoid possible singling out at tailgaters, parties,etc. This is anti social behavior being encouraged as opposed to social drinking where kids actually have the chance to meet other kids and potentially meet life long friends as so many of us did at ND. Unless we are all so naive as to believe that kids away from their parents for the first time will not drink at college we need to look at this issue more carefully and try to draw a middle line. Making drinking a forbidden fruit just encourages abuse. We need to look at our European neighbors who take such a different approach to this issue and have no where near the problems we do.

9:44 PM  
Blogger John said...

I'll be at the Stanford game, but I'll be stone cold sober on the way there, during the game and on the way back immediately after the game. I remember that the SBPD were dicks when I was a student and it sounds like they are even worse now. I don't want to take a chance on a hassle with the cops now. I'm making a point of spending as little money as possible in South Bend and Indiana because of this. Furthermore, I'm planning to do my partying in Michigan.

9:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Going to Games at ND Stadium is fun. Family fun. You just can't ignore the pompous fat bastards Ushers and their power trips. If you or your friends have too much to drink or even look like you had a few they will prevent you from entering and will take your ticket and keep it with no refund.
They will also contact the people who you got the tickets from with a letter.
So as far as going to an ND Game like it was 20 to 30 years ago.Forget it. ND is all Politically Correct like Disneyland now.
Don't Cheer to loud either or you will be thrown out.
Once in the Stadium you can not leave and get back in under any circumstances.

All because some short fat,stupid jagg oof with a power trip wants to be a big man

10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I forgot ND Stadium is actually the main church on campus, not the Basilica anymore. Please act accordingly and refrain from cheering or making any noise.

I also have a story to tell, but it pales in comparison to this one. The fact of the matter is that ND games are being policed by guys with large egos and are on huge power trips, and it is really a shame, especially when visitors are getting treated like this.

11:42 PM  
OpenID nathancontramundi said...

If y'all will forgive my shameless self-promotion, I'll direct you to my tale of being done violence by city law enforcement, not at a football game, but within thirty feet of my own dorm, whilst sober, simply for suggesting that, maybe, the officer in the situation was a bit out of line, whilst NDSP watched and did nothing.

http://nathancontramundi.wordpress.com/2008/08/18/ever-spent-time-in-the-st-joseph-county-in-jail-i-have/

I kept my job as an RA!

NPO,
Class of 2006

12:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Outrageous. I sent an email to the alumni association referring to the stories here. Hopefully someone will bust some heads in the administration.

1:29 AM  
Anonymous Matt '09 said...

I'm finding it very ironic that this is all hitting the fan on the day of my 21st birthday.

I fear that Irish fans are facing a great dilemma. Which is worse: Stone cold sobriety at ND Stadium, or Pat Haden with a few beers in you.

Also, Nate, you rock!

3:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not a ND grad, I guess you would call me a subway alum, however I bleed gold and blue. I have taken my fair share of crap for loving the Irish so much even though I did not attend the school, however I did attend another school. I am a proud former Marine and graduate of Paris Island and I swear by God if I were there and those men treated you the way they did in front of me they would have had one pissed off Marine on their hands. God bless you for your service and if ever I am in the crowd and some jackass of a cop wants to pick on a disabled veteran come get me. They don't have enough back up to handle this 260 pound Catholic Irish Marine. Go Irish Semper Fi.

4:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't you guys forward or submit this unbelievable account to the Observer as an op-ed? It would certainly reach a wider audience on campus and outrage even more people. With more exposure, who knows, maybe something can change.

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is really disappointing to see what is happening at my beloved Notre Dame. Though blame can certainly be placed on some fans (you should know better than to act like a drunken jackass, especially once you're inside the stadium), it is obvious that NDSP and the SBPD have taken a "shoot first, ask questions later" approach. I encourage any and all who have been mistreated to write to the Observer and shine a bright, white light on this issue.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

are you kidding me the Observer is owned and ran by the University of Notre Dame, do you really think any of this would get published and give ND a black eye. The University of Notre Dame would shut down the campus newspaper. I have been out here for almost 10 years as a staffer and it is only getting worst. I have heard ND alumni and students say they want things to change but once you have your degree, it's bye bye and see ya at the football game next year. STOP CRYING AND ONE OF YOU ND PEOPLE OUT THERE DO SOMETHING ABOUT OR SHUT UP!

10:54 AM  
Blogger superfly said...

"the reason for the emphasis in junior and senior sections is because after the previous 2 games there were numerous empty alcohol containers left in the stands."

"Beer cans? In the stadium? God bless those brave souls"

You can get a whole six pack in wearing cargo shorts, pulled it off at least 2-3 times junior year.

12:05 PM  
Anonymous MILBer said...

I work in sports, and I'll tell you, we hate it when local PD gets into the stadium.

They run roughshod all over our policies, randomly throw people out, which we get bad pr for, and act like they can do anything they want.

6:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am outraged. The police MUST be held accountable and told that such Gestapo tactics will NOT be allowed at ND.

Wish I knew what I could do to get the message to them!

10:59 PM  
Blogger Terrence said...

This is a sign that Catholic Americans are being sterilized into mainstream elitist culture, with no sense of brotherhood or cultural celebration. I went to a Jesuit University in California, Santa Clara University. We were harassed by overzealous hall monitors in the dorms for having some fun on the weekends, and the cops would crack down on any half-way decent parties. My sisters went there 6 years before me and they used to be able to have a good time and made good friends, but by the time I got there, the school totally lacked a social life or any sense of comraderie. People who would normally not have joined frats did so their sophomore years b/c they realized there were little social options if you did not buy into a click of friends. That's what happens when you let campuses turn into police states where university sycophants and local police target students as hooligans just b/c they want to drink and let loose.

I can tell the atmosphere at the home games completely sucks on NBC: they hardly make any noise! You can also tell that the student boby is a punch of wimpy conformists, not the more traditional ethnic Catholics that did not forget where they were from. I mean, are they gonna start using grape juice instead of wine at the mass on ND campus. You would think you were at Brigham Young with the intolerance towards alcohol, but I think Brigham Young is even more lively on Saturday afternoons. It shows that too many aspects of our society have become unreasonable. We live in a society where enjoying oneself, whether after a few beers or in some cases just under the appearance that you've drank a bit, has become unacceptable behavior.

The anti-social behavior shows that the University has the wrong priorities, and needs to act quickly to get back to that traditional Catholic atmosphere, not some dry secularist police state, where people are too worried about their image to celebrate life. We need to go after NBC, who runs commercials during the games for their sex-laden sitcoms, where women are telling men to have passionate sex with them, that's in the middle of the afternoon during an ND game! Also, the color commentator insults the announcer, telling him he looks like he "never got close to a library," in his life: classless! Overall, NBC does a really lackluster job. We need to go after NBC and the heartless administration, who divert the attention from themselves by attacking fans and the student body. It's clear that they care about money more than anything else, and sell out the ND legacy to corporate America while they rob the fans and students of a true ND experience.

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Domer Dan said...

Terrence,
Truer words were never spoken! My mother worked there for many years and is a devout Catholic and has stated the same feelings nearly verbatim. As an alum and lifelong Irish fan I agree 100% I remember games as a youngin in the early 70s, to games as a student in the early 90s and now it's over policed.

8:41 PM  

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