EL PASO — Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the lawn prove that students have been drinking at a tailgate. Two arrests for public intoxication October 21 at the University of Texas at El Paso prove that alcohol creates problems at campus tailgate parties.
“Tailgating is a tremendous problem on this campus,” said Lieutenant Michael Hanna, a 22-year veteran on the UTEP police force.
Hanna told UTEP journalism students recently that violence and underage drinking at tailgates is exacerbated by extended tailgating time. “Part of the problems with tailgating is that before [tailgating time was restricted] you could tailgate anytime, anywhere, whatever. We would have people out tailgating at 7 a.m.,” Hanna said. “Now they are restricted to come to inner campus at 12 noon, so basically what we see is everyone has this mentality of ‘Oh it’s already 12 noon, I have to catch up,’ “so sometimes we think that might encourage binge drinking.”
Hanna said that violence at tailgates typically do not involve students from UTEP.
“For the most part its very few [UTEP] students involved,” Hanna said. “For example, the two games where we issued all the citations, out of the 21, one was a [UTEP] student. The others were either El Paso Community College students or high school students.”
Hanna said strict punishment against all underage drinkers on UTEP’s campus might cease problems at tailgates in the future.
“Once you have to go the judge and pay a $150 fine and pick up trash for a few weekends, you probably would not want to come out here and do that again,” Hanna said.
Frank Gomez, a 20-year-old junior psychology major, said he thinks that violence at tailgates is due to alcohol, but not in the way that some people might assume.
“When individuals drink, the alcohol tends to give them a relaxed feeling. I read in my psychology book studies show that alcohol is not linked to aggression,” Gomez said.“ In reality, alcohol is more linked to being macho.
Gomez said that he thinks alcohol influences students’ actions and is the reason there is fighting at tailgates.
“We are pressured into drinking because college is perceived as being able to party, being able to hang with other individuals who are drinking,” Gomez said. “I think alcohol is the underlined reason for violence at tailgates because people develop this mindset that they are on top of the world.”
Shannon Osborne, a women’s resource center coordinator, helps put on CAB Alley, a non-alcoholic tailgate. She said CAB Alley’s purpose is to provide students and guests with a safer alternative.
Osborne said there is a notable difference between CAB Alley and other tailgates with drinking.
“I think the main difference is that there’s more control at our tailgate. A lot of people are having fun and there no pressure of ‘hey, you have to drink’.” Osborne said.
Osborne said after CAB Alley’s tailgate on October 3, she witnessed a violent act against a individual.
“ I saw a kid with red on his head and at first I thought it was paint, but it turned out to be blood. He got hit in the head with a beer bottle and immediately walked across the street,” Osborne said
Osborne said the sequence of events left her startled.
“I was so scared I could feel my heart beat, I felt sorry for the kid,” Osborne said. “Come to find out, he was an underage kid from high school.”