Students must practice self-control at games

USF’s 2010 football season begins Saturday, with the team facing off at Raymond James Stadium (RJS) against Stony Brook at 7:05 p.m.

For new students, the season opener may be their first taste of collegiate football and the wild, party-like environment that many returning students know and love.

But as some have already learned, RJS and its surrounding parking lots that tailgaters enjoy are not places where unlawful activities are overlooked. Students need to remember to act responsibly, or they may regret the consequences.

In September 2008, USF – then-No. 19 in the nation – defeated then-No. 13 Kansas 37-34 in front of a packed crowd, sending Bulls’ fans home happy. However, the jubilant celebration afterward resulted in 76 ejections or arrests.

Since then, USF unveiled its Respect-A-BULL campaign aimed at improving fans’ behavior. It’s an effort among the school, Tampa Sports Authority, which operates the stadium, and law enforcement to beef up a code of conduct that forbids poor behavior.

As a result of greater enforcement, last year’s home opener against Wofford saw 52 arrests or ejections.

Police, along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and other agencies, will again be out in force this weekend to scour the parking lots and check IDs of those they suspect of underage drinking.

Furthermore, engaging in poor behavior such as fighting, public intoxication or disorderly conduct may get students ejected from the game or parking lot.

Most concerning is the fact that those who find themselves in trouble with authorities could face criminal prosecution as well as disciplinary action from USF.

Students have often complained after being arrested, claiming that it’s unfair they have an arrest on their record for something they perceive as trivial.

Despite the displeasure students may have toward law enforcement at games, they shouldn’t plan on police going away anytime soon.

Students must act responsibly and intelligently all season.

Football season is a special time when many students make memories they will cherish for the rest of their lives.

However, they can still have a good time at games without committing unruly acts that reflect poorly on the school and themselves.