A Dean's View of Game Day

This interview was conducted as part of a collection of stories about the culture of football Game Days at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

MA: Maria Alioto, KH: Kevin Helmkamp

MA: Associate Dean Kevin Helmkamp has been serving the University of Wisconsin for more than 25 years. Dean Helmkamp has an especially unique view of Game Day through his work at the Madison Police Center.

KH: The Dean of Students Office has a presence at the Police Center for two roles. One is through our Badger Alcohol Check Program, where students from previous games who have been either ejected or cited for alcohol use have to come and do a preliminary breath test for the Dean of Students Office to attend the game. Additionally, we staff in the Police Center itself – our role being to really encourage students to cooperate with the police.

MA: Dean Helmkamp believes Game Day can provide a positive spotlight on the University by showcasing its profile on a national stage, however, from his administrative viewpoint, Helmkamp sees many negative effects of Game Day as well.

KH: The great, great majority of it surrounds overindulgence in alcohol. When problems do pop up, they’re almost always on an individual basis alcohol based. I think also alcohol plays a significant role in those parts of Game Day that do not reflect the best of the University and our student population. Specifically, the language that is used and the treatment of opposing fans can be way too hostile.   The concern I have right now is the type of drinking that we’re seeing. In my 25 years here, the biggest change that I see is in the B.A.C. levels. We are seeing very regularly high twos and even threes at football games, and that in and of itself is just a recipe for disaster.

MA: Dean Helmkamp thinks students can play a key role in helping change the Game Day environment to make it safer and more enjoyable for everyone involved.

KH: We need to hear the students say, “This is not who I am,” and the students should be working equally as hard as the University about how this University is portrayed to current students, perspective students, parents of students, state legislatures and people throughout this state.

MA: Dean Helmkamp understands his view often highlights the negative aspects of Game Day. However, he believes the students must come together to improve the reputation of what it means to be a Badger on Game Day.