Ivies tighten tailgate rules

While Yale administrators continue to discuss possible changes to the University’s tailgating policy at sporting events, recent changes to alcohol policies at other Ivy League schools have prompted strong reactions from students.

Following tighter security measures instituted this fall at Columbia University to prevent underage drinking at athletic events, many students said they are angry because the strict rules could end the school’s history of lively tailgating. Word is spreading around campus that the new policy will further lower an already weak turnout at games, Columbia student Seth Berliner ’08 said.

“There’s talk among various campus organizations, especially the Greek organizations who used to be a big part of the tailgating ritual, that they’re going to boycott homecoming and just throw a party on frat row,” Berliner said. “I’m not happy about the changes, and it sounds like there isn’t a student on campus who is.”

Columbia is not the only Ivy League school that has made recent alcohol policy changes for games.

Harvard increased its security and police presence at last year’s Harvard-Yale football game, banning kegs and limiting the amount of alcohol each person could bring into the tailgate. Columbia unveiled its new policy less than a year after changes at Harvard, and the Yale administration is expected to announce an alcohol policy committee’s findings later this fall.

But Yale College Dean Peter Salovey told the News last week that Yale’s tailgating policy changes will probably not include tightened security or heightened police patrolling.

Columbia’s new policy prohibits visitors from bringing alcohol through the pedestrian gates into its home athletic complex, or into the parking lots where students traditionally set up tailgates before games. New parking restrictions will also keep students out of the parking lots, because reserved parking and day-of-game parking is no longer available in the main lots.

The new regulations are meant to align the alcohol policy on Baker Field, Columbia’s football field, with the university’s general policy on alcohol at events, said Alex Oberweger, Columbia’s associate athletics director for athletic communications.

“The notion that Baker Field should be exempt from campus policies is not something the athletic department believes in,” he said. “This will create a more family-friendly, fan-friendly and safer atmosphere for everyone.”

Students over 21 will now be able to purchase beer in a new “Lion’s Tail-gate” hospitality area at Baker Field, Oberwerger said.

Columbia’s tailgate policy changes are somewhat stricter than those enacted by Harvard at the Harvard-Yale game last November, which banned kegs, U-Hauls and Winnebagos and limited the amount of alcohol each person could bring to 20 gallons of beer or one gallon of hard alcohol.

But despite Harvard’s changes, hospitalizations and citations for underage drinking increased dramatically at last year’s game — at least 25 students were taken to area-hospitals for alcohol-related reasons, compared to only 10 in 2002 the last time the Game was held in Boston. Many Yale students said these statistics confirm their belief that trying to regulate drinking at tailgates is a lost cause and may even fuel heavier drinking.

“If there are rules designed to limit drinking, people will just drink somewhere else before they come,” Tom Hamilton ’08 said. “One way or another, people are going to get drunk for that event. Whether it’s in their rooms or on the fields doesn’t really matter in the end.”

Cornell, like Yale, has yet to tighten tailgate security, Cornell assistant to the dean of students Sue McNamara said. Cornell’s current policy, like Yale’s, treats alcohol as more of a health concern than a disciplinary issue.

“There hasn’t been a change in alcohol policy in several years,” McNamara said.

Fraternities and sororities at Cornell have to register their tailgates for homecoming each year, she said.

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