I love Ole Miss game day but I don’t love the mentality it breeds: ‘Anything goes’

Stop touching me

Football season is a widely considered to be highlight of the college year. Everyone lives for game days – tailgates, summer weather and (ideally) a win is the ultimate combination for building school spirit.

However, last weekend was different. After entering the stadium, my typically enjoyable game day quickly spiraled into an unpleasant experience.

About halfway through the second quarter, the girl behind me accidentally fell into me, which is fine. I caught her, stood her back up, and she and her boyfriend both thanked me. I said no worries, and turned back around to watch the game. As I shifted, the boyfriend said, “I never caught your name, baby girl,” which at first I thought was weird, but then I assumed he was from the South and probably referred to most girls as “baby girl” or “sweetie” as a lot of my southern guy friends do.

I told him my name, and we shook hands. At this point, I think somewhere in his presumably beer soaked brain he imagined we were friends now, and he started touching me.

At first he played with my hair. Initially I was annoyed, and I asked him to stop. He continued, brushing my shoulders as he swished my hair. He kept trying to start a conversation with me, and even asked me about what I was wearing under my shirt. At halftime, I walked over to see my parents, because I needed a break from being touched. After halftime, I stood on my seat, but he remained seated so he was eye-level with the back of my knees. I heard him behind me tell his girl friend to “watch this” as he reached out his hand to caress my inner-thigh.

This finally shocked his girlfriend enough for her to tell him to stop, but he did not. After this he dropped his pom-pom down the back of my shirt, and then shook a wet pom-pom on my neck, back, and legs. I took it from him, threw it on the ground and said stop. The final straw came when he tried to push me off my seat. At this point, I turned around and yelled at him and his girlfriend. I will never forget their faces; they were genuinely confused and astonished. They never realized why I was so uncomfortable or upset, because when it comes to game day there is this understood mentality that anything goes – because it’s game day.

And I’m obviously not the only one who has noticed.

“There’s such a feeling of commonality on game day. There’s a connection to our fellow students unlike any other time of the year,” says Kristen Skipper, 21, Exercise Science major. “However, I am beginning to notice that the connection is sometimes unwanted and inappropriate.”

While I do feel a very strong connection with my fellow Rebels, especially on game days, that still does not give anyone the right to touch another person without their consent.

Luke Jenkins, 21, Geological Engineering major, equates this mindset with a culture problem:

“People think it is an accomplishment to drink all [game] day, which leads to impaired judgment. Then they perform actions they might not normally do or exaggerate normal actions. If that action is being inappropriate towards women then it is only going to get worse.”

Alcohol plays a major role in the game day experience at Ole Miss and acts as a blanket of general acceptance around most of the incidents that take place. “It has to do with the alcohol epidemic that surrounds game day,” states Sophia Benigno, 21, Biology major. ‘The Grove becomes a place where people go to escape.”

Many of these actions get swept under the rug because of the, “It’s game day” or, “They’re just drunk” mantra but Ethan Pettigrew, 21, Political Science major believes the game day mentality is not reserved for game day but merely a heightened extension of most college student’s beliefs because there are, “people who think that way everyday.”

Senior, Broadcast Journalism major, Jason Jones also believes that this mind set boils down to people “not knowing right from wrong” or choosing to ignore what’s right because they think “they can do whatever they want.”

Our game day experience is always voted one of the best in the country. I agree, and there is not anywhere else I would rather spend my Saturdays in the fall than in The Grove. Let’s keep game day at Ole Miss great by respecting other people and encouraging a safe environment for everyone.

Ole Miss: University of Mississippi