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The Spin Doctor is In

"It's real, you should say something"

Can't remember the movie, but this quote is apropos given the current controversy around tailgate-gate.

Bill Kirk and Cappy Gagnon have been calling alumni who've complained to address their concerns. Key themes we've heard:
  1. This didn't happen (cite some statistic)
  2. These are Internet rumors
  3. Even though we don't really believe this stuff, we've heard your concerns and will do better
  4. You should feel satisfied now
Uh, hum.

First, an observation. These concerns have been voiced for the last two years on NDNation in various forms, but they never reached a tipping point like they did this year. Once some started sharing their stories the others came out of the wood work with such rapidity and passion that it was clear we became an outlet for unexpressed thought and pain. Those that came forward have not been quietly waiting for their moment to strike, they'd been hiding their stories - probably embarrassed - and most likely felt theirs was an isolated incident. The pattern doesn't fit lying, though I'm sure there was some percentage of piling on and exaggeration. There has to be, especially if one is emotionalized. That said, just reading these, it's impossible for a rational person to conclude that these are all made up stories. What's clear is that many are coming forward reluctantly because they feel change is needed. If 50% of them are true, there's a big problem. A guesstimate after doing this for years, is that 50 is more like 90%. But that's debatable. The next point isn't. I find the Spin doctor take, that these are just crazy internet rumors, to be distasteful and ignorant.

Now a fact. While some are anonymous publicly, we've received many emails with real names and real emails that match to real alumni. The Iraq veteran and purple heart recipient who was grabbed and spun around only to throw up in a vertigo episode? True and verified. Indiana Irish has been contacted from high levels within the university and will now make it back to a game. The alum whose wife was punched in the face by a Michigan man who the police let go? Fat lip, black eyes.. true and verified. The alum who had his pants ripped off? True and verified. These are NOT anonymous and the University has reached out to make amends. We have their emails. They're real people. They're not anonymous, but that doesn't mean they want their names broadcast to the entire world. Notre Dame has contacted them personally. They're real. I'm not sure what world the Cappy, Kirk, Poorman trio live in.

Many others that emailed us aren't public yet. In some cases they're from alumni who have emailed us back and forth now many times. Students and alumni are now seeking affidavits from those who want to go public with their information and setting up a website to capture the stories. They're also offering to help those who are fighting a case. If you want to share your story or need help, email us at Boardoperators@ndnation.com. This has no connection to NDNation.com, btw. We're just connecting people.

Another fact. There is hard evidence of bannings.

So, in sum. This is real. This is bad.

At the heart of the problem is a lack of cohesion and frankly, inconsistency of policy. Big donors can drink their faces off with the University's blessing. Because they rarely cause problems, they're not an issue. Students are an issue and they're tough to deal with. Really tough.

I wouldn't want Bill Kirk's job, that's for sure.

But bannings, undercover cops, usher quotas, false badges, lack of caring about students who are turned over to police, turning them over to police at all, tell a story of leadership gone off the deep end. These are tactics born of insecurity, not strength. Of an adversarial relationship, not a partnership. If that's the case, as one AD wrote us, you need a new job.

In Caddyshack parlance, Kirk is Bill Murray and the kids and alumni are the Gopher.

Again, I wouldn't want Bill Kirk's job. But, if you're going to do this for a living you can't assume an antagonistic stance with students. If you do, you will fail. Perhaps he's just been in the position too long. Perhaps his direct manager has sent the wrong message. As IAND75 wrote, we seemed to have ill-defined or conflicting priorities:
"If the goal is to make sure that everyone is safe and has a good time, and that trouble makers are controlled you don't have to go undercover. Undercover cop and eye in the sky cameras underscore a goal of catching people doing something that is not obvious. But if a persons behavior is not obvious, they can't be causing trouble to the rest of us. So who cares what they are doing.

In fact, the best tactic is the opposite. Show the colors. Put plenty of uniformed police walking around and visible. The nature of the the people that attend ND games is that they are good law abiding folks. Simply having the presence of police will deter most unwanted behavior.

Then have the police be friendly. Have them stop by your tailgate and chat. Offer them a Coke. (No Pepsi products. This is ND.)

I would appreciate having them around if I knew they were there to help control the occasional dust up. I want to like them. Heck, for most of the rest of the year I depend upon them to keep my daughter safe and secure.

Same with the ushers. There is simply no reason for any adversarial relationship with any of the security forces on campus. Treat us with respect and we'll treat you with respect.
As El Kabong points out, the assumption of guilt is an awful place to start:
Cappy assumes there are rule-breakers out there, so he tasks the Usher Captains to find them and chastises them if people are in sections without bad actors. As a result, the atmosphere becomes overbearing in some sections.

The Usher/policeman who grabbed indiana_irish assumed he was drunk and needed rough handling. Because of that rough handling, II got sick and things went down from there.

Kirk assumes everyone in the Stadium who gets pinched is someone they don't want on campus. So they deal out the campus ban slips like breath mints and alums and fans who love the school get a virtual slap in the face.

If the administration approached all this from a position of brotherhood instead of immediately going adversarial, we wouldn't be having these problems. Cappy should be rewarding the people whose sections don't have troublemakers because that means everyone there is enjoying their ND experience. If the cop who grabbed II had approached him with a gentle hand on the back and "are you OK?" instead of what he did, none of what followed would have happened. If Bill Kirk didn't have such a clean-this-place-up fixation, he wouldn't get his ass ridden here so often.

Things would be better if ND stopped assuming everyone was a potential rule-breaker or somehow out to get them.
Having puritanesque leaders in charge of clearly non-puritan students is a problem. The idea, that Mother knows best is only true to a certain extent. Many of the best partiers in college turn into the best business people, because they understand emotional intelligence. They get people. Corporations around the country are actively screening for these emotional intelligence characteristics because they're the biggest determinant of success. I worked with 15 heads of HR on Wednesday, they laughed at all the dysfunctional PHDs they deal with and suggested they needed to drink more beer when they were school. This is no joke, BTW. Social skills are important if not preeminent and the lack of them is the key reason many great students don't make good leaders. And Notre Dame was known for turning out smart kids who understood others and how work with them and influence others. You can't do that if you're not one of them.

But the current myopic, puritanical stance toward students is hurtful to the ultimate mission of a University. The current policies and tactics are counterproductive and only the dolts can't see this. As ndoldtown wrote,
"It is cool how Christ-like ND's administration is
...you know, lots of people nowadays are turned off by organized religion, claiming it tends to be dominated by abunch of pious, bloodless, authoritarian hypocrites who lack mercy, empathy or self-awareness. I wonder why."
Now, let's kick the shit out of Stanford!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You don't know what movie that line is from? Are you kidding me -have you never heard of Google? Taking 5 seconds on Google showed me it was from Jerry Maguire...

1:24 PM  
Blogger The Commissioner said...

I live far from South Bend so I'm not sure what the buzz is like on campus. i just hope this doesn't effect our players. Losing to Stanford would be awful.

That said, I hope some changes are made. It sickens me to hear the excitement is being taken out of ND home games. It's bad enough I have to listen to Hammond and Hayden.

1:47 PM  
Blogger Slotts said...

I can't believe you insulted Carl Spackler like that.

2:06 PM  
Blogger steveray said...

Thanks for keeping up the effort to publicize this issue. We had to put up with gestapo like tactics 20 years ago when I was a student, but the Internet gives us the means to stop it. If I were a student I would organize a group of 20 or so students to patrol the parking lot with video cameras and be on the lookout for abuses. The students should be wearing official uniforms and be stone-cold sober and avoid any confrontation. Take special attention to get clear close up shots of the "officers" or campus officials including their name badges. Saturday night after the game put it all up on the web, including results of an online people search of any officer who behaves poorly. Name address, telephone number, the works. Also use the evidence to confront the administration and demand action.

Undercover cops at football games? That's disgusting.

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should really let the Usher quota thing go. There isn't, and never has been, an Usher quota. Cappy's explanation of what was in the Usher Newsletter was correct and ligit. There are almost 900 Ushers working at ND Stadium. Of course there will be a few in those 900 who live out an inflated sense of self importance. They are the minority though. Most of the Ushers working at ND Stadium do it because they love Notre Dame, and they want to be a part of the game day atmosphere in any way they can. They do their best and take pride in being the best ambassadors for Notre Dame that they can be. Using a broad brush to paint a picture of all Ushers as power hungary bad guys is wrong. Most are good people doing their best to make everyone's game experience a little better and they don't deserve the unwarranted attack on their character.

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Ice Cube said it best:


4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dean Wormer comes to mind.

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A well written article. The law enforcement should avoid the adversarial approach. It simply doesn't benefit either side except in the fact that St. Joseph's county is probably making a killing in alcohol related fines. The university needs to acknowledge the opinion of the student body and the alums alike.

4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Put yourself in their position - you are a guy from South Bend who is lucky to have the gig you have landed even though it is not a lucrative one you still get to see the games.

Then comes game day and there are any number of (to you) snotty-nosed (maybe) drunk loud-mouthed brats - both male and female - with rich daddies (you think) and one year after they're gone they'll be making 10 times what you make in your best year (you think) and when one of them starts mouthing off and calling you nasty names - what would you do?

I went to ND once in the early 60s (I was at the Syracuse game when they kicked the field goal and Ernie Davis played for Syracuse) and flunked out and went into the service and then came back and flunked out again. I wound up as a construction worker and for a while I lived in Valparaiso and there were times when we would go out to U.S. Steel in Gary for a job and there we were - union workers making anywhere from $22-$30 per hour and there were the gate guards and security guards making about 1/3 of that (if they were lucky) and they knew it and if we gave them the opportunity they would MAKE THINGS MISERABLE FOR US!!

Get it?

Grow up and stop taking yourselves so da++ seriously. If you wanna get ====-faced at a game go ahead.

Actions have consequences

i.e. - stfu

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me just say this. I used to work for Cappy as a student at ND, and one evening I went to grab some candy as I was walking around outside because my sugar was going low (Type I diabetic). A dorm moniter saw me, and reported that I was 'hanging out in the dorms instead of doing my job' and I was promptly fired. Let me tell you, he cares only about himself and his image. He does NOT care about the students.

5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can tell you unequvically that the Provost is the problem . This guy is image hungry and image driven . Of course if you are viewed as a " major patron " the rules are different because he needs your image . Eliticism is the rule of the day . If you must drink on campus do so with your pinky extended in good form please .

From admissions ( increase the number of rejections was his mandate )to hiring professors who would ban Fox News from the South Bend Airport ,( SBT Sunday 9-28-08), this guy is so far removed from the Notre Dame Family as it used to exist that it has now become Notre Dame Incorporated and you'd better get in line or you will be outsourced .Image my friend , image . We have to get that university ranking up there with Princeton . When did you ever see a Princeton man drunk ? ( Last night at the club as a matter of fact )

Like all elitist , he thinks he knows how all of us ought to live and if you don't believe me just ask him .

6:20 PM  
Blogger oaknd1 said...

"I'm to here to let you go Jerry. It's real, you should say something." -Bob Sugar

6:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you really just say drinking makes you a better person? Sure, many ND people who party end up having great careers, but that's because when they sober up, they work hard for their degree and bust their ass in and out of the classroom.

Otherwise, you're just another fratty jackass who sleeps his way through class and lucks into a job in i-banking where he can bs for 2x the rate of an honest man. Well, maybe not anymore...heh.

I'm not saying everyone should be holed up with their nose in a textbook, but life is about a balance of working hard and having a social life, not one or the other.

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Paul P. said...

Anonymous 3:02,

First, recognizing the existence of usher quotas is not an attack on the decent ushers. Virtually everybody who has posted on this topic acknowledges that many ushers are good guys doing their best in a job that's not always easy.

Second, it's these good guys themselves who are the source(s) on the existence of usher quotas. Below, I'm pasting the heading and text of a Rock's House post by ND8486 on this.


Colleague is an usher in the stadium...

by ND8486 (09/29/2008 14:23:19)

His section supervisor was admonished by the captian for not throwing anyone out on Saturday...there must be drinking going on in your section.

Related that many veteran ushers have left the service because of the heavy handed drinking rules enforcement.

9:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a thought, one of my friends was at W&L while Burrish, our new provost, was there. He made it hell on them for drinking, and they even banned alcohol from tailgates. Seems coincidental that things are getting so crazy right now. Think about it.

11:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a side-note to your article. You refer to the Iraq vet as a "purple heart winner". Perhaps this is quibbling over words, but as a combat veteran myself, it is somewhat thoughtless of you to describe someone as having "won" a purple heart. You receive a purple heart for being wounded by enemy fire. You certainly haven't "won" anything, and those of us with purple hearts don't use language like "winning" to describe being wounded.

This might seem insignificant to you, but it is a real distinction. Just thought I would bring it to your attention.

12:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Burrish is the elephant in the living room . It is not just his nazi view on drinking . He is an extremist in many ways . Folks at Vanderbilt were ecstatic when he left . The alumni have no idea how dangerous this man really is .

We will soon have a department of political correctness ---just watch .

12:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be funny to see what would happen if State or Local Police did what these Indiana Barney Fifes do and get away with in Lincoln Nebraska,Pasadena,California,Columbus Ohio,Gainsville Florida,or even at Northwestern,Palo Alto or BYU.

They would run out of town.

Notre Dame has changed into a holier than thou campus.
The students at Notre Dame work harder in a week of school than most of the Smokeys do all year.
Under huge pressure to get top grades and have a lot pressure to perform so they can have a caeer where they don't get off on arresting people for little or no reason. Where is the ACLU here. Where is the ND Law School students?

Some student group needs to get an injunction slapped on the Indiana and South Bend Coppers.

If a Cop pulled a camera out in Austin or Norman they would get their asses kicked. There would be a riot for them not minding their own business.

Now go be the good Irish that you are and get blasted and lay waste to Stanford and the KKK that are the Indiana Police

1:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The operative phrase is " Notre Dame WAS " . This is a new mentality in this administration . They tell you up front -- " we want researchers, not smart well adjusted folks with common sense "

It doesn't take a lot to see the way the student body has changed in just five years . I personally liked the old Notre Dame I knew a hell of a lot better than this new conglomerate calling itself Notre Dame .

Bring back the Notre Dame Family !!!!

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

GUYS...just watched the stanford game

MAN..HOW IN THE &%^%^%^ can we not find a KICKER

my grandma could make it from 30



8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"ND Alum getting his pants ripped off"? What was that incident? Guess I haven't been tracking the board postings well enough. Mind posting a link?

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was in the section next to the lady who got hit in the nose. we were 3 or 4 rows higher and to the south. did not see the punch or hit but did see the aftermath. there were 2 very large michigan men--250 to 300 lbs each. i think she was collateral damage--they were trying to bully someone else. when the ushers showed up they sat there like choirboys who didn't know what everybody and i mean everybody around them was telling the usher(s). they left the seating area with the ushers. i can't believe they were let go. they were a real danger to everyone within striking distance. i also saw the undercover (baldheaded) guys walking thru the library lot before the game. they were followed (100 ft behind) by six to ten uniformed (brown) law enforcement men and women. the bald headed guys were weaving between the parked vehicles to surprise/ambush folks. i saw no arrests or stopping/questioning of tailgaters. i believe that was at the purdue game. this past week at stanford, i saw no police/excise/undercover people in the library lot before or after the game. in the stadium it was clear that the ushers were on very good behavior. no one stopped parents and children from doing pushups after scoring. no one who tripped was escorted out anywhere around us. there was some issue near us and the usher was obvioiusly very helpful. my sense and everyone i talked to was that there was a noticable change for the better in whatever section our group of tailgaters were in. i hope my conclusion is correct.

9:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill Kirk has to go before anything will change. Please include "Fire Bill Kirk" in all of your university correspondence. Together, we can make a difference!

2:25 PM  
Blogger wsmitheGH said...

Haha Ice Cube was the man! Stanford is a joke

Notre Dame Football Homes at GamedayHousing.com!

2:24 PM  

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