Dear Mrs. Barbour:
I have been a die-hard Cal fan since 1992, my freshman year. In fact, without much exaggeration, I declare that I bleed blue and gold. Although I have been living on the east coast for the past 15 years, I make it a point to travel to see as many football games as possible and, at the very least, watch every televised game.
In addition to several games at USC (including the 61-0 loss in 1994), UCLA, and Stanford, I have made road trips to Arizona (1997), Arizona State (1998), Colorado (2011), Ohio State (2012), Maryland (2008), Michigan State (2002), Minnesota (2009), Rutgers (yes the 2001 game), San Jose (1996), Tennessee (2006), the Insight Bowl (2003), the Holiday Bowl (2004), and the Las Vegas Bowl (2005). Additionally, I plan on being at Northwestern next year and at Texas in 2015.
It is safe to say that I have been a Cal fan long before you were in charge and I will continue being a Cal fan long after you are gone.
It is from this position that I state that I am terribly dismayed by the state of the student section at Memorial. Students are entirely avoiding attending the games. This is not a function of the difficulties on the field, but rather this is due to the policy of subjecting students to random breathalyzer tests. It is my understanding that, should a student under 21 test positive for any amount of alcohol in their system then they are refused entry, they are issued a citation by the University and they are possibly subject to criminal prosecution.
Why would any student attend a game under these circumstances?
(Before you respond with AD-speak that I have mischaracterized the entry policy in some way, it is abundantly clear that most students would agree with this characterization, and they are voting with their feet.)
In my years as a student, even on the rare occasion that I did not have a single sip of alcohol before a game, it was never the case that at least one person in my party did not. And if a colleague was denied entry over something as asinine as this, I very much doubt that I would have attended the game. Therefore, rather than attending every home game as a student, under the currently policy, it is possible that I would not have attended a single game. And if I did not attend a single game as a student, is it very possible that I would be largely apathetic to Cal Athletics at this stage of my life.
As a large, fragmented university, one of the benefits of football games are that they are one of few (only?) instances in which the entire student body can do something together. Now, rather than watching the games together, this large, fragmented student body is watching the games in their own self-segregated microcosms.
The empty student section is also an embarrassment to the school, it will dissuade future recruits from attending, and it squanders the home field advantage.
Apparently this was designed to contain binge drinking. But when students do not go to the game, where it is harder to keep drinking, the drinking will be much more than if they were at the game. When they are not at the game, students will be next to a keg and a bottle of vodka. So much for containing drinking, right?
I used to look at fondness toward the few students in the student section. I used to regard these as the hearty fans, unfazed by the poor record. However, my inference is completely different with the knowledge that these students were confident enough to get past the breathalyzer, thereby compromising any sense of privacy, and most importantly, fun. This makes attending the game, in general, and these students, in particular, kind of lame in that it identifies them as the most sober kids on campus. How perverse is this?
(Perhaps this policy also explains the poor student attendance at Haas, but that is another matter.)
This policy is also idiotic, because it is alienating future season ticket holders and future donors who might help pay off a $400 million debt! $400 million! And if people did not attend games as students, why in the world would they attend when they live farther as non-students?
As a former student who has many fond memories from the student section, often when I and those in my party had been drinking, I find myself very angry at the treatment of current students. For instance, as an alumnus I ask myself, why would I support an organization which will refuse entry and cite a 19 year old at a football game for having any trace of alcohol in their system?
Further, since the student gates are not in view of the general public and because the students did not engage in serious efforts to inform the general public about the policy, most people assumed that the poor student turnout was related to the performance of the team. There are many like me and they too will be angry when they learn of this policy.
This is actually more stupid that the low graduation rates and stadium financing.
I am afraid that I can no longer support you as the Athletics Director. Additionally, once the general public becomes aware of this policy and its impact the student section, I would be very surprised if you are not looking for a new job in the near future.