In an unprecedented move, Harvard University administrators announced yesterday that no students will be permitted to bring alcohol into the tailgate at the Nov. 18 Harvard-Yale football game in Cambridge this year.
To enforce the new policy, Harvard officials said they plan to search all vehicles entering the tailgate area prior to The Game. The rules also restrict tailgate attendance to current Harvard and Yale students, as well as Harvard alumni who buy tickets, according to an e-mail sent by Harvard College Dean Benedict Gross to House Committee chairs Tuesday night. The e-mail did not specify whether Yale alumni could attend. Students from both schools expressed surprise and dismay at the new rules Tuesday night.
Although students will not be able to bring their own alcohol into the game, professional bartenders will operate three stations inside the tailgate to sell beer, spiked hot chocolate and possibly wine to students who are over 21. In addition, free nonalcoholic beverages will be provided to all tailgaters.
Gross’ e-mail — which was posted on the Harvard Crimson Web site late Tuesday night — also states that the tailgate will close down at halftime and that intoxicated students will not be permitted to enter the tailgate.
Yale College Council Secretary Zach Marks ’09 said he understands the Harvard administration’s concern about excessive drinking, but he is concerned that an incentive to binge drink outside of the tailgate could jeopardize student safety. Yale College Council Vice President Steven Engler ’07 said he also fears the new rules will erode longstanding traditions at The Game.
“It’s unfortunate that Harvard has passed this policy,” Engler said. “We obviously respect their decision, but this is obviously going to put a damper on the game. … I think students who choose to drink on Harvard-Yale weekend will do so, either off campus or in dorms.”
Last year, Yale College Dean Peter Salovey criticized Harvard’s 2004 tailgate rules for being relatively overbearing in comparison to Yale’s 2005 policy.
“We think creating a climate where people are expected to behave in mature and healthy ways and look out for each other’s safety is a better approach than a long list [of rules],” Salovey told the News last October.
At the 2004 Game, there was a ban on kegs, U-Hauls and Winnebagos, as well as detailed rules about the type and quantity of alcohol each student could carry into the tailgate. But despite the rules, more than 25 students were taken to the hospital from the tailgate.
Yale implemented a simpler set of rules for all tailgates in October 2005, shutting down tailgates at halftime and banning drinking games.
Several Yale students contacted late Tuesday night called the new rules “silly” and said they think the atmosphere of the tailgate and the Game will be dragged down, although they said they still plan to attend.
“That sucks,” Nick Buttrick ’08 said. “I think that’s going to make it really horrible when we lose again this year. We won’t really have an excuse.”
Buttrick said he thinks Yalies will figure out a way to sneak alcohol into the tailgate, and several students suggested that some may drink more, and more quickly, if they are forced to do so before the tailgate or in secret.
Like his peers at Yale, Harvard junior Abraham Riesman said Harvard should treat underage drinking as a public health matter rather than a disciplinary issue. Students who drink in secret, he said, are more likely to consume excessive quantities of alcohol.
“People not drinking at The Game? It’s literally ridiculous,” he said.
A week after The Game in 2004, Boston Police Department Cpt. William Evans told the News that his department would seek to ban hard alcohol and limit admission to the Game when it returned to Cambridge in 2006.
“We were misled into thinking that this was a low-scale event,” Evans said in 2004. “We were surprised at how many people were there. When students are continually going to the hospital, we have a problem.”
— Staff Reporters Cari Tuna and Judy Wang contributed to this report.