“Red Scare” at LBJ

LBJ, is this the best you could come up with?

The LBJ School is training us to be future leaders of non-profits, consultants for businesses and authors of government policy. The administration tells us we are the decision-makers of the future, but they apparently do not believe that students can be trusted with opaque red cups.

Policing student beverages is out of line with the way the school has promoted alcohol consumption in the past. There are a number of receptions in the LBJ lobby throughout the year that offer alcohol, culminating in the open-bar graduation celebration with our own Dean making a toast.

But last Saturday the administration changed the rules when the cold fist of enforcement grabbed my shoulder and interrogated me as I entered the building,

“What’s in that cup?”

[Silence.] I know my 5th Amendment rights.

“You must leave this building now,” said the security guard.

“Here, take my cup if it concerns you. I am just going to the bathroom.”

“No! You must go outside.”

My creative problem-solving skills were quick to the rescue: “Here you go… my cup is now empty,” I said, after polishing off the remainder of my beer mixed with Malibu. I continued on my way to the bathroom, quite happy with my elegant solution.

“Stop! Or I will call the police and have you arrested.”

His threat was so absurd that I began to wonder how much fluoride he had ingested as a child.

“Call the police. By the time they get here I will flushed, washed and wiped. [1]

I understand that on game-days the LBJ School bathrooms get overused. There are 100,000 people on campus, most of whom are drinking, and our beautiful bathrooms with and pacific blue tiles and triclosan-free hand soap attract many small-bladdered football fans.

But how does having a security guard threaten would-be bathroom users keep LBJ clean?  If bathroom cleanliness is really the concern, there are two much simpler solutions.

1: Instead of hiring a security guard, hire a bathroom attendant.

2: Rent several port-o-potties instead of renting a cop, and give LBJers and non-LBJers convenient access to restrooms outside.

If the concern is destruction of LBJ property outside of the bathrooms, how does policing the alcoholic content of cups inside the building help? If someone is destroying property, the security guard could respond to that instead of trying to police the contents of cups.

With the famous LBJ Chili Cook-Off Competition coming up this Saturday, I ask that if LBJ administrators are concerned about LBJ property, they come up with a more effective solution than idle threats from a rent-a-cop and to stop treating LBJ students like children.

[1] Though not in that order.


8 replies on ““Red Scare” at LBJ”

A few thoughts on Mr. Love’s op-ed above:

What most people understand–and what the leaders of the Great Tailgate Society (GTS) try to explain every year–is that our tailgating exists in a gray area with the school. For the past 5+ years, GTS has had a tacit agreement with the administration and the LBJ Library: we will tailgate in the breezeway so long as we keep the building clean and not cause trouble in our location. On top of that, all the tents that are lined up along the side of the school are purchased by alumni and donors who give thousands of dollars to the school and football program every year for a relatively calm area to tailgate, quick access to the stadium, and coveted parking spots. So it is easy to see that GTS, every game day, attempts to provide a great experience all while balancing the requests of the LBJ administration, library, and a group of donors who have considerable sway on campus.

Some of those request are relatively simple, at least I thought so: 1) Don’t take drinks or food inside the building. 2) Keep the bathrooms clean 3) Only those with ID cards should be allowed to enter the building — limiting the general public from entering the school. (As an aside, the LBJ Library even allows access to their facilities on game days. 4) Contain the mess that is made in the breezeway. Plus a few others. Seem like a fair deal, doesn’t it?

This year we have gotten a little bit more brazen with our tailgates: more beer, liquor, speakers for music, games, etc. With that, GTS has tried to work with the administration and the security guards to keep everything in line. We have helped with power washing the breezeway, talked to the security guards throughout the party, swept melting ice to the drains so it doesn’t run in to the school and so on. It is upsetting when there is ever an incident with people not following the rules, especially from alumni of the school. Here are a few facts: some of you may have noticed that we had a different guard this past tailgate who was also running late. When he arrived there had been cups left inside the building, a coke can used to prop open one of the side doors, and trash in one of the hallways. GTS has been working to clean everything up (all in the background) while still keeping the party going outside. It doesn’t help when a young alumni strolls in to the building with disregard for the few rules we have, drinking some kind of beer and Malibu concoction and believing he is above the set rules. Who do you think was more aware of their senses and obligations at that time? A guard or someone drinking a terrible mix of alcohol?

Port-o-Potties cost money that we don’t have, unless we cut back on beer and food, or raise dues (again). I refuse to even entertain the thought of hiring a bathroom attendant. Is it that difficult to follow the rules that have been sent down? I would argue that Mr. Love was asking childish in not respecting the request of the security guard placed on duty for Saturday. Take your drink outside and return to the building, like man, and don’t respond by finishing your drink instead of listening to the request.

I wonder if Mr. Love realizes how good we have it every game day. Tailgating at UT is a cut throat game if you don’t have an established place. Most people walk around with cases of beer, the engineering school sits under trees by their school, a lot of undergrads party off campus, and the spots by the Texas History Museum are claimed for the day before the game! We’ve been having a great time this year and have a few more surprises for everyone as our season moves forward but we have to follow the rules that are in place or future LBJ classes will have to fend for themselves on the 40 Acres.

I think Mr. Falcon eloquently explains how my friend Rob – who incidentally had no business really even being in the building, so I’m confused by his militancy – is endangering a situation produced by agreement between parties simply to make a point. (I’m also confused what the 5th amendment has to do with a security guard.) It is a decent encapsulation of how militant libertarianism tears at the social contract and is often comes off as no more than someone not liking being told what to do by “the Man.”

As alumni, it’s our place to support the school and the students, not to stick our noses into their business.

I’m actually very disappointed in the Baines Report for printing this op-ed. Surely there were more policy relevant topics than this? If not, I have a great piece about how unjust the world is because those fascists at the Alamo Drafthouse won’t let me make phone calls during the movie.

This article makes our school look petulant, immature and obliviously privileged. If I stumbled upon this as a prospective student and thought that this was the level of policy discourse at LBJ, I would most certainly choose another school. The fact that this article is one jump from the homepage right now is seriously alarming.

I agree, this is a Facebook rant, not LBJ Journal material. However, I reject Connor Kenny’s statement that “this is what is wrong with militant libertarianism does”. That is making a jerk move a political move, and isn’t even really applicable in this instance. In fact, it makes me question Connor’s understanding of what libertarianism even is. If the only people allowed in LBJ during the games are LBJ students, then that is the rule, without exceptions. Libertarianism values property rights above all else- so in this case, the LBJ administration would have ultimate say on who goes in. This response to Mr. Love seems rather foolish, and this whole entry devalues the LBJ Journal and its online presence. There is no policy critique or prescriptions here, just angry, know-nothing twenty somethings slinging idiotic election year barbs. This whole issue doesn’t involve the 5th amendment, Mr. Love. Nor does it exemplify “tearing at social fabric”. Get over yourselves, gents. Stop the pseudo-intellectual bickering and call a spade a spade: don’t be a jerk and use facilities that you don’t have permission to use. If you do have permission, you consent to certain guidelines that the property owner (in this case, UT) lays down.

My apologies, Trevor, there are years of back history of political and meta-LBJ discussions at work here that you are probably not aware of (nor should you be; they are not very interesting). This is certainly not the place for alumni to rehash them. However, your language does seem quite intemperate considering your lack of knowledge of the participants. I can assure you that both Mr. Love and I are almost overbearingly familiar with libertarianism, that this discussion has absolutely nothing to do with the election (last I checked, Gary Johnson has a long way to go to victory and neither Mr. Romney nor Mr. Obama reflect very much of that philosophy) and that neither one of us is in our twenties. Again, while context would have made this more clear, the context is probably not worth going into.

I look forward to reading current students’ more policy-based pieces here and for Mr. Love and I to return to trading ideological insults in a more proper forum and over beers. And if I need to use the restroom during a future tailgate, I hope for a more convention-based implementation of the bathroom policy than a rigid interpretation might allow. Because I think the lesson here is that if we can all behave with politeness and deference to the host, a more genial and less conflict-producing atmosphere is possible.

Dear classmate and colleagues,

Thank you very much for taking the time to read and comment on my op-ed.

Gabe, thank you very much for the delicious food at the LBJ tailgate. The Great Tailgate Society puts on a great tailgate, something that everyone at LBJ is proud of.

Briefly, I want to clear up a few things:

1: I am currently a student at LBJ. I have a right to be in the building, the same as any other student.

2: The 5th Amendment: If a police officer asks you, “Are you breaking the law?” do you need to answer? What if the person is not a police officer, but a security guard? What if instead of saying, “breaking the law” he says, “Are you breaking the rules (or supposed rules)?”
I am pretty sure that the Constitution says that I do not have to answer any questions that could incriminate me, whether or not the person asking is a police officer.

3: Policy recommendations can be made at many different levels, including the policies of a public educational institution. I do not like seeing my government or my school waste my money with ineffective policies.

4: Is there hard and fast rule that no food or drink be allowed in LBJ? Is it any drink, or just alcohol? (i.e., can I bring a Coke into the building on Saturday, but not a beer?) The school sponsors food and drink every day, and even sponsors alcohol on certain occasions. I would like to see some consistency and common sense in our school’s policy regarding food and drink inside the building.

5: Does GTS pay for the security guard? I did not propose that the GTS pay for a security guard or bathroom attendant, but rather that the funds used to pay for a security guard, who I believe adds very little value to the tailgate, be used to pay for something more valuable, like extra bathrooms outside.

Lastly, I believe in personal responsibility. If I did something wrong, who did I hurt or whose property did I destroy? Who is the victim?

If I had spilled my drink or broken a chair in the lobby, then I would agree that I committed a crime because I caused damage to private property, and I should restore what I damaged. But if I did not harm anything or anyone, there is no crime.

We are in graduate school to learn, and one of the best ways to learn is by asking questions. If you are going to be involved in government or policy, then you need to start asking questions, including questioning the rules.

Dear Mr. Love,

Thought you might care to know that the use of alcoholic beverages is prohibited on property and in buildings owned or controlled by The University of Texas System. There is a system set up to allow the Dean to request a waiver from the President in the case of officially sponsored events (GTS is NOT an officially sponsored event lest you leap to more conclusions). See Rules and Regulations of the Board of Regents at http://www.utsystem.edu/bor/rules/80000Series/80102.pdf

Perhaps you should educate yourself about the rules before complaining.

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