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Students ejected for tradition

Scott Brodfuehrer | Monday, September 22, 2003

When coordinator of stadium personnel Cappy Gagnon was a Notre Dame student in the early 60s, students streamed toilet paper from the stands following the first touchdown. But when students bring marshmallows into the stands now, they can expect to be ejected from the game, as between 12 and 15 students found out when they were forced to leave the Stadium Saturday.

Gagnon said that a crackdown on possession of bags of marshmallows was instituted last year and has continued this year because students are not just throwing marshmallows; they are throwing marshmallows with rocks and coins inside of them and throwing marshmallows covered in ice during the winter months, in addition to throwing other objects.

“This has gone from a silly prank we winked at to a major problem,” Gagnon said.

Gagnon said that one student was treated for a laceration Saturday after he was hit by a water bottle and that others have been treated for injuries in the past as a result of being hit by flying objects.

Gagnon said that allowing students to bring marshmallows into the game, when personnel know of the potential for danger, poses a liability issue. In addition to the injuries caused by flying objects, he said he has received a complaint from Paul Borowski, coordinator of sideline personnel for NBC, that projectiles have hit an NBC camera on the sideline and could potentially damage the expensive equipment.

As a result of the complaints and injuries, Gagnon said that students found carrying marshmallows into the game or in possession of a large quantity of marshmallows in the stands will be ejected and reported to the Office of Residence Life.

Senior Steve Carroll said an usher reached into his pants without speaking to him or otherwise identifying himself and removed a bag of marshmallows as he waited to enter Notre Dame Stadium before the game Saturday.

“An usher reached into my shorts, grabbed the marshmallows and grabbed my ticket book … I just felt his hand in my pocket,” Carroll said.

Gagnon said that ushers are trained to ask students to see the contents of their pockets, not to reach into students’ pockets.

Carroll, who acknowledged he had consumed alcohol before the game but said he was not intoxicated, said another usher told him there is a standing policy of confiscating the ticket books of students who have marshmallows. Carroll said he had never previously heard of this policy.

Gagnon dismissed the idea that students are unaware of the rules.

“Show me a student who think it’s OK to carry marshmallows into the Stadium and I will ask them why they strapped the bag of marshmallows onto their thighs,” Gagnon said.

Gagnon said, however, that he believed the students might not have realized they would be ejected if found with a large quantity of marshmallows.

During halftime Saturday, a group of three Notre Dame Security Police officers stood at the entrance of Section 29, looking for seniors throwing marshmallows. When they ejected several students from Section 30, the student crowd booed and threw marshmallows at the officers.

Gagnon said that stadium personnel are only targeting the “ring leaders” – students who have a large quantity of marshmallows – and that no student has been ejected just for throwing one marshmallow. He said that confiscated ticket books would be returned to students after they met with officials in ResLife, but Gagnon said those officials have not told him “squat about punishment for ejected students.”

Gagnon said that throwing objects during half time is also offensive to the band.

“It is a major insult to the band. They turn to salute the sidelines and the seniors, the leaders of the student body, aren’t listening to the band. They are insulting the band,” Gagnon said.

Gagnon said he might support a different prank if it did not have the potential to injure others. He said a marshmallow fight would be more appropriate outside of the Stadium.

“If students want to have a marshmallow fight on the quad, I’ll sign a petition to endorse it, but what a lot of people see as a tradition now, it causes harm,” Gagnon said.