More UPD officers will monitor stadium Saturday after SSU incidents

Erin McGuiness

The Paulson Stadium student section will have more officers from the University Police Department (UPD) at this Saturday’s home game after disrespectful behavior from Georgia Southern students from the previous home game.

GS is set to play the University of Louisiana-Monroe (ULM) this Saturday, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. At the last home game, a Savannah State University (SSU) cheerleader reported through facebook she experienced derogatory slurs and had a bottle thrown at her from the GS student section.

“When an incident like last week comes about, it forces us to look at things differently,” Tom Kleinlein, GS athletic director, said to Savannah Now reporter, Nathan Deen. “And we are [looking at things differently]. Our game-day environment for visiting fans is of utmost priority.”

According to Laura McCullough, chief of police at GS Public Safety, there will be the same number of law enforcement officers at the ULM game as there are at all home games, however, GS Public Safety will send a greater proportion of officers from the UPD.

“Since we use law enforcement officers from various agencies, we want to make sure that there will be enough UPD officers in the stands with them to assist with any issues. We do this because our officers are more familiar with university rules and regulations and how we handle issues that may arise,” McCullough said in an email.

McCullough said that GS Public Safety advises officers working at football games to address any issues in the stands, including offensive or profane language. Officers remove offenders from the stadium if they continue their rude behavior after the first warning.

Likewise, when Evan Challenger, GS baseball player, threw a bottle at an SSU cheerleader at the last home game, law enforcement officers removed Challenger from the stadium. Challenger was not legally charged for the action.

Andrea Brown, freshman criminal justice major, believes that GS Public Safety can prevent similar incidents by “having more security around the area where the cheerleaders are and monitoring the student section.”

Saturday’s game is set to kick off at 6 p.m. Students are required to bring their Eagle ID in order to enter the stadium.

Blakeley Bartee and Brady Gwynn contributed to this report.