Students should not give up the fight
Now is the time to take a stand against the new tailgate policies. The results are clear and unequivocal – the game day atmosphere that was to be maintained has been decimated. Let me be clear. It is not the amount of regulation that we must stand united against; it is the simple fact that the regulations were put into place with only cursory input from the student body. This facade of student involvement has allowed individuals to champion the fact that CMU students were involved in creating these rules, in an attempt to justify and legitimize them. Let me tell you now, we must not having any of it. We must not drink from their tainted well.
In a recent CM Life article, our esteemed athletics director was quoted as saying that “We’re [the students and administration] all in this together.” Additionally, in his letter to the editor he said that the “game day environment and experience should reflect the university’s mission and commitment to current and future students.” A bullet point in CMU’s mission statement reads - Shared Governance, supporting the principles of communications, consultation and participatory decision-making. The wool has not been pulled over our eyes; these policies have not come about as a result of adhering to CMU’s mission statement or the mentality that we are in this together. Only three students were invited to participate on the committee. There were five representatives from law enforcement present. Even if you would like to believe that all three students were there at every meeting, this still doesn’t account for the complete lack of outside input from the student body. The only time students were actively sought out was once the protesting began.
Mr. Heeke has also made several other disconcerting comments recently. In Wednesday’s edition of CM Life, he insinuated that the paper as well as the students who protested tailgating were using sensationalist tactics and de-unifying the student body. He then immediately goes on to say that there was a “very real chance that tailgating would not exist for students at all,” and that he would rather see an empty lot on the front page than a dead student. The only sensationalism being utilized in this conversation is by Mr. Heeke himself. No students have died, the very creation of the committee shows that the removal of tailgate altogether was not an option, and the students have done nothing if not unify – just not in the way he would like. His appeal to fear is a logical fallacy, and is a juvenile tactic at best. Also, CM Life actually encouraged students to go to the game with an open mind. Continuing to shift the blame will not bring students back to tailgate.
In the Detroit News, Mr. Heeke was again quoted as saying, “I’m disappointed in the students. I fault them for not giving it a chance.” Really? It is not the fault of the oppressed that they do not succumb to the demands of the oppressor. CMU, we must fight back against this proverbial lash.
There are some who have reached out to the students on this matter. The new CMU police Chief, Bill Yeagley, stands out in my mind as one such individual. His open approach and candor with the student body lends me to believe that there is yet hope for the CMU administration to do the right thing. The problem is that his has only been an individual approach. The hand of the students must remain a closed fist until the administration first extends their own open grip.
Students: do not go to tailgating. Have your fun elsewhere and then go support the football team. They deserve our support. I fear, however, that if the administration is unwilling to convene a new committee to change these asinine regulations, then our next move must be to boycott the games themselves. In any conflict there are casualties, and unfortunately for the hard working student-athletes on the football team, they may become one of the first in this struggle. This may be the only way to force the administration’s hand on the issue. Dave Heeke recently encouraged students to “hold the rope.” The situation is quickly reaching a point in which the students will need, instead, to let go of that rope, lest it strangle the tailgating tradition completely. Let us hope it does not come to this. Students, the ball is no longer in our court. In his letter to the editor, Mr. Heeke said that, “Each and every university official and event employee is dedicated to assuring that we continue to provide you with one of the best game day experiences in the nation.” It is clear the game day experience has been destroyed. An unwillingness to convene a new committee now stands in direct opposition to this statement. I say that this statement is a lie. I hope the administration calls my bluff. We have certainly called theirs.
I have been told that ours is an unwinnable struggle. I have been told the administration will not budge. I have been told they care not for the will of the students. But, as students, struggle we must. As Reagan said, “Let us be sure that those who come after will say of us in our time, that in our time we did everything that could be done. We finished the race; we kept them free; we kept the faith.”
Brandyn Lawson InterFraternity Council President