Arlington tailgating ends in ‘scuffle’

Ethan Metcalf

A fight between a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and someone associated with Tarleton State University reportedly broke out in the tailgating parking lot at AT&T Stadium during last Saturday’s Lone Star Conference Football Festival. Several hundred Midwestern State University students, alumni, faculty and staff were present.

“I was at my fraternity’s tent and I looked over, I see a tussle and I see Alpha Phi’s letters fall down,” said Tristen Cunningham, mechanical engineering freshman and member of the Kappa Alpha fraternity. “Basically I went over there, one of brothers was in the middle of it, so I went over there, helped him break it up basically telling the SAE guy it’s not really worth it. But it was some Tarleton kid. It was a Tarleton kid and an SAE kid and they were just going at it. It was just those two.”

More students confirmed off the record that a fight broke out in the parking lot during the second half of MSU’s game against Eastern New Mexico University.

Cunningham said he was sure a member of SAE was involved, but he said he couldn’t readily identify the person whom he believed was associated with Tarleton State University.

John Krawietz, mechanical engineering senior and president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, declined to comment.

Cunningham said stadium security arrived on the scene, followed by Arlington police, but Cunningham said no one was taken away. Arlington police said no report was filed at AT&T Stadium between 10-11 p.m. Saturday night.

“Their charter could have probably been lost, especially if there were people who got arrested,” Cunningham said. “That would have been bad on SAE’s part. It would show they weren’t professional.”

Alec Norris, business management and administration senior, said drinking contributed to the fight, but that it was only a minor scuffle.

“We separated them and the Tarleton guy confined to keep yelling at the MSU student as I was walking him away and he finally left,” Norris said. “Another Tarleton student came over and was apologizing and then security and the police showed up within five minutes and told us the ‘ownership of the property wanted us to leave immediately,’ which is highly doubtful that the city of Arlington heard about a minor scuffle and wanted us to leave that fast.”

Keith Lamb, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, said he was unaware that a fight broke out during the game, but action could be taken because the Lone Star Conference Football Festival is a university-related function.

“If we’re made aware of that and we know the individuals involved, we absolutely can address that through our judicial process, so there are degrees of severity of violations of the code of student conduct,” Lamb said. “If something happens involving students off campus at non-university functions then the university may or may not address it based on severity. That’s how we make those decisions. That was a university-related function at AT&T Stadium, so absolutely the university has the latitude judicially to address any violations with the code of student conduct there just as we do at Memorial Stadium.”

While Lamb said he was not aware of any misconduct at the game, he later said in an email that Dean of Students Matthew Park is creating a message on tailgating conduct, specifically about underage drinking, to distribute to students.

“I visited with Matthew Park this evening and, as it turns-out, he has been working on a message to distribute to students and student organizations prior to the next home football game. In addition, (MSU Police) Chief (Dan) Williams tells me he will have additional officers patrolling the next tailgate,” Lamb said. “While we are thrilled at the early-fall involvement and spirit of our students, we certainly want to ensure the behavior is safe and legal.”

In addition to the now ramped-up officer patrols, Lamb said student life staff members are present at tailgating events, but there are often not enough staff to address every instance of underage drinking or misconduct.

“There is student life staff that walks around, and we are free to address it with students as we see it occurring,” Lamb said. “There’s obviously limited student life staff and police walking through there, so we hope that as a community of individuals we’re all aware of this and to some degree policing it and not giving alcohol to underage individuals. But I think we’re certainly not naive enough to think that’s not happening, so we do have to address it when we see it.”

Mario Ramirez, activities coordinator for student development and orientation, said he was present for most of the tailgating but did not see the fight.

“We got there and there was this huge crowd that mostly was Greek and then across the street was the alumni. So there was a lot happening. I guess unfortunately I didn’t see anything,” Ramirez said. “I know there were people telling people to get off the road because there were a lot of people.”