UW-Madison Officials Implement "Show and Blow" Breathalyzer Policy at Football Games

Since the dawn of higher education, the university has been not only a center for scholarly pursuits, but has been associated with recreational substance use, as students blow off steam outside of class and on weekends. In the words of an old saying, students like to work hard and play hard.

However, when college students mix alcohol with other activities-especially driving under the influence, but also other activities that involve high emotions and crowds, like rallies and sporting events-they allow potentially harmless fun to cross the line into life-threatening or criminal behavior.

And now, officials at the University of Wisconsin football stadium, Camp Randall, have decided to step up discouragement of rowdy behavior by using breathalyzers to prevent anyone who has a past history of problem drinking from attending a game.

Starting with the Badgers' home football game against the University of Iowa Hawkeyes, gate officials will be assisted in administering breathalyzer tests by the UW-Madison Dean of Students' Office. The office has a list of names of students who have previously been thrown out of the stadium for disorderly conduct. The new program has been dubbed the "show and blow" policy.

For the first game, university officials disclosed that there were 36 students on the list who would be tested if they were identified.

Previous offenders over the age of 21 need to only have a blood alcohol content (BAC) under the state legal limit for driving, which is 0.08 or less. Those who are under 21 must be completely alcohol-free and will not be given admission if they register a BAC greater than 0.00 on the breathalyzer test.

The University of Wisconsin has previously tested certain problem drinking offenders, and the new program expands on previous efforts in a campus-wide push by the administration to reduce the negative impact of alcohol on campus. The Students' Office hopes that the new measures will be a visual deterrent against problem behavior, since students on the list will be required to perform the breath test in full view of students coming through the entrance gates.

The consequences of failing to comply with the new procedures could also be far more serious than being denied entry into a football game. Any season ticket holder cited for unruly conduct could have their tickets revoked. And, according to the new plans, previous offenders who are booted from football games again could face suspension from the university.

Yet previous offenders are not the only ones who will be stopped by campus officials and police: students who are visibly intoxicated upon entry could be prevented entry and could also face the UW police department.

Night games are generally worse for behavior problems related to drinking, as proved by the most recent night game, against the Michigan Wolverines in 2005. In that game, 69 citations were issued, including 58 to UW students. Sixty total people were arrested, 58 of them students, and 114 people were ejected, 77 of whom were UW students.

With as many as 80,000 fans attending the games, the numbers for these incidents might sound low. But the University of Wisconsin, as a premier Division I football school, is taking any and all incidents involving disorderly behavior and problem drinking seriously, and hopefully many major universities across the United States will follow Wisconsin's lead in trying to quell the growing problem of students drinking to excess.

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