While students are getting ready to cheer on the Augustana Vikings at the football game this weekend, much will be going on behind the scenes.
For the first time in 26 years, Augustana will take on the University of Sioux Falls (USF) in football. In preparation for hosting the rival team, Augustana Campus Safety has been working to ensure that game day goes smoothly.
“Any time you put a large group of people together, there’s issues,” Rick Tupper, head of Augustana Campus Safety, said.
The primary goal of Campus Safety is to make sure the crowd is safe. Tupper said that Campus Safety is preparing to deal with any potential “distractions” during the game, ranging from intoxicated people to someone having a heart attack.
“Only about one percent of that [crowd] is going to be of interest to us,” Tupper said. “The other 99 percent, we just want to make sure that they do have a good time.”
The day of the game, Tupper will be working with the Sioux Falls Police Department and five Campus Safety officers from USF to make sure the campus and stadium are adequately covered.
Many USF students will be crossing through Augustana’s campus to get to the game because, despite being an “away” game, Kirkeby-Over Stadium is closer to USF than the college’s home football field, located on Cliff Avenue near 69th Street.
“We want to make sure that they know we’ve got people around, and we don’t want any issues on campus,” Tupper said.
In past years, the rivalry between the two schools led to vandalism on both campuses. Just a few years ago, several acts of vandalism occurred in the days before an Augustana versus USF basketball game.
“What happened was the old ‘tit for tat’ kind of got out of hand,” Kevin Grebin, director of Campus Safety for USF, said.
It began when a few Augustana students came to the USF campus and put corn syrup and papier-mâché on the USF cougar. USF students retaliated by vandalizing the Ole statue. The rivalry escalated back and forth over the next few days until it ultimately resulted in USF students starting an Augie dumpster on fire and Augie students shooting paintballs at USF signs.
“The only thing that … those actions did was put Rick [Tupper] and I, and our departments, in a bad light with the neighbors that live between the two schools,” Grebin said.
While the Campus Safety officials from both schools hope that such harsh vandalism won’t occur as a result of this game, they recognize that they need to be prepared.
“If something got out of hand, what we don’t want to do is be reactive because at that point it’s too late,” Tupper said.
Grebin hopes that students can enjoy the game without any serious damage to school property or the surrounding neighborhood.
“The cheering, the taunting back and forth at the games—that’s natural,” Grebin said. “We want people to have fun. We want this to be a nice rivalry that will continue for years to come.”