The student section, the hype of high school football games, is getting cracked down on for numerous instances of irresponsible behavior.
At Chamblee’s Homecoming Game, as well as other football games, several students made poor choices, which reflected poorly upon the school. Out of concern for student safety, administrators took steps to promote positive behavior and installed the no standing rule in the student section.
“Being a cheerleader here before and being down there [the track], the student section gets everybody really pumped up,” said junior Rhythm Williams. “It helps the cheerleaders sometimes. What’s a football game if you can’t really stand up and be excited that your team members scored? The fact that students can’t stand in the student section is kind of lame.”
Principal Dr. Norman C. Sauce III has been reminded by people at the county level that there are regulations about sitting in one’s seat and leaving space in the aisles for people to pass through in the event of an emergency.
“I’m aware that rules like that are not always enforced in every stadium you go to, but most stadiums have regulations, including our county stadiums,” said Sauce. “And the thing is, when things happen that continually draw attention to what’s going on in your student section or in your stadium, it sometimes can shine a light on other things that you might of not have been following and should follow.”
According to Sauce, the administration is aware that the majority of the population makes good choices and that it is important to acknowledge that, but they cannot ignore the misbehavior.
Administration has heard profane words being chanted, has seen students being intoxicated in the student section, and has seen those who were not yet intoxicated, but were in possession of alcohol in the student section or heading to the student section.
“There were instances where we heard upperclassmen chanting inappropriate chants towards freshmen…,” said Sauce. “Some brought insensitive homemade signs…. Students chanted politically charged, what someone perceived as offensive, chants….”
Some claimed the chants were towards Latinos from the opposing team’s student section, yelling for President Elect Donald Trump to “build that wall.” Upperclassmen told freshmen to “move back” from the front of the student section.
Also, the administration has yet to determine where a bottle was thrown from, causing a concussion. It is unclear whether the bottle was thrown from the Chamblee student section or not. A student next to the student section was hit. It is alleged that it was thrown on purpose, but not necessarily for the victim.
Those who were caught in possession of illegal substances were punished according to the Student Code of Conduct. Administration took progressive steps to tackle drinking at games.
“So, if we know students smell like alcohol, even if they’re not showing signs of impairment, that odor [of alcohol] concerns us,” said Assistant Principal Cindy Mosley. “As administration, we have to do something about it, we can’t be passive about it. So, we try to take steps: letting the police know we need some help, making sure our students our safe, and making sure they’re not drinking and driving, and that parents are contacted. We actually found that some are under the influence of alcohol, so we get the parents involved to help us with the student.”
There were three confirmed cases of intoxication at the Homecoming Game and suspicion of others. Mosley claims there has been suspicion of alcohol at every game she has been to. She says there tends to be students drinking alcohol in the lower parking lot.
“It’s really important that people respect the rules of the school,” said Student Government Association president Kerstin Thule. “There’s a time a place for everything and it’s important for the student to respect that and that the administration has to protect everybody and that there’s no exception to one individual. I hope people can know now in high school and leave high school with a bigger respect for authority.”
Although there were instances of misbehavior and drinking, it was never an option to abolish the student section. The majority of the students behave well, and the misbehavior has yet to get to the point where the administration would call for an abolishment of the student section.
“Every school has a student section,” said Williams. “Unfortunately our student section has been caught up with illegal substances and so I feel like the student section as a whole should not be punished because I’m pretty sure there were people in that crowd you weren’t intoxicated and their parents knew where they were and what they were doing.”
Though misconduct happens, the administration tries to stay ahead of it and prevent it before it happens. They try to get in front of the misbehavior by reinforcing and reminding student of expectations. They encourage students to ask questions about why expectations are set and have the monthly Student Unity Dialogues.
“We are charged with being fair and consistent with all the students,” said Mosley. “We give you all the map [Student Code of Conduct], so that you can read and say that this is what we expect and are also aware of the consequences…. Basically we encourage people to do the right thing…. We try to stay on you all the time….We start with the little things, like getting to class on time, so you won’t be in a position to make bad choices.”
Even with all the shenanigans at Chamblee, administrators still want students to have fun, albeit in a safe and appropriate manner.