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Opinion

UWRF officer evaluates the repercussions of using foul language

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November 10, 2010

According to UWS 18.11(2), “No person may engage in violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly conduct under circumstances in which the conduct tends to cause or provoke a disturbance, in university buildings or on university lands.”  This offense is called disorderly conduct (DC).

Obviously, there are a lot of offenses that are sheltered under this offense. Disorderly conduct is the catch all of offenses. The reason I bring this up is because a big part of being a college student is going to athletic events on campus. The UW-River Falls Police Department works football, hockey and other events. I am amazed by the amount of obscene language used.

As a fan, you are a representative of the university. That being said, your actions reflect on all of us on campus. Please note that I say this not only as an officer, but also as a student. As adults, we are protected by freedom of speech; you have the freedom to say what you want, but if what you say is in violation with the above code, there could be repercussions. As educated adults, I feel that we can think of adjectives that are longer than four letters (the –ing does not count) to describe the game.

Typically, a warning is given first in the event of obscene language and gestures at a UWRF sanctioned event. The second step is immediate removal off of the premises. Finally, if a person decides to yell obscenities at us—the police—while being removed from the event, a citation for disorderly conduct will be issued. The fine amount for disorderly conduct is $295. If you think about it that is $73.75 per letter for the word you decide to use. Rather than utilizing a three-step process, we have the right to issue a citation without any previous warning. Because the majority of students refrain from using obscenities after the first warning, we try to implement a warning when possible. There are some exceptions though. At the hockey game on Halloween, I escorted a man out of the game who chose to yell a number of obscene words at the referees and UW-Superior players and bang on the glass. These actions are not tolerated.

Fans are integral to all sporting events. By participating as a fan, you are supporting the team and the university. Along with that, we have some excellent leaders at athletic events that encourage and lead cheers. Cheer for your team, have pride in your chosen university and have fun. If you cannot participate without the obscenities, be prepared for the repercussions that will come.

Patricia Forsberg has been a law enforcement officer for three years and an officer with UW-River Falls for a little over a year. She is also a student at UWRF, majoring in sociology with a criminal justice minor.