Before the first home game of the season against Georgetown this Saturday, Yale football fans will have to adjust their pre-game plans and activities to comply with updated tailgating regulations.
This August, a committee comprised of Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry, officials from the Athletics Department, a number of college masters and deans and representatives of the Yale Police Department approved changes to the University’s football tailgate rules intended to cut down on underage drinking. Students were notified of these changes by e-mail on Tuesday. The changes are partly prompted by the University’s recent measures to prevent injury and protect student safety, said Natalie Gonzalez, associate director for varsity sports administration and chair of the tailgate review committee.
Gonzalez pointed to the recent proliferation of committees concerned with campus tradition and student health as examples of Yale’s more “proactive” stance on safety, and said the new rules are an effort to bring the same preventative measures to tailgates.
“We wanted to just basically make it a more safe and responsible way of tailgating,” Gonzalez said.
Under the new rules, all fans who attend tailgates must present valid identification and will receive a wristband denoting whether or not they are of legal drinking age. Student organizations must now register their tailgates in advance with the Athletics Department.
Gonzalez said the change brings tailgates in line with other campus events that serve alcohol, which she said are all monitored by campus officials in some way.
Glass containers and charcoal grills will now be banned in an effort to prevent injuries and facilitate easier cleanup after football games, she said. Most grillers drop their used charcoal directly on the ground after they finish cooking, she added, creating a mess that takes several days to clean.
Gentry said that the University reviews tailgate rules each year. Administrators make changes when they see an opportunity to improve safety at the gatherings, he added.
“We’ve been reevaluating being more proactive in creating a safe environment,” Gonzalez said.
Students were not directly involved in the tailgate review process, but Gonzalez said she did ask college masters to consult with their students regarding the proposed changes.
Natalie Papillion ’13, chair of the Calhoun Student Activities Committee, said Calhoun will replace their charcoal grill with two propane grills. Other than that, Papillion said she does not expect the changes to affect Calhoun’s tailgates: The college never serves alcohol at the two or three tailgates it hosts each year.
In an e-mail to the News on Wednesday, Sigma Alpha Epsilon president Ben Singleton ’13 said he does not think the new tailgate regulations are necessary since he had not heard of any serious underage drinking violations at tailgates last year.
SAE brings a U-Haul to every home football game and serves beer and food cooked on their charcoal grill to students, Singleton said, adding that the fraternity will purchase a replacement gas grill.
“I think the new tailgating rules could certainly hurt the number of students that show up to tailgate, and ultimately, attendance at football games,” Singleton said.
The new rules will apply to not only Yale students but to everyone who chooses to tailgate outside the Yale Bowl, Gonzalez said. This means the wristband policy will also apply to Harvard students and alumni on November 19 when the Crimson football team travels to New Haven for the 128th edition of the Game.
Over the past decade, Harvard’s tailgate rules have grown more stringent than Yale’s — in part, because the Harvard Stadium falls under Boston’s police jurisdiction and must comply with Boston’s statutes on tailgating. Last October, Gentry told the News that those statutes were different from New Haven’s.
The Crimson’s crackdown on tailgates began in 2002, when Harvard administrators banned kegs at tailgates. At last year’s edition of the Game, Harvard administrators banned kegs, hard alcohol and U-Haul trucks. They also provided wristbands to students who were of legal drinking age, and asked attendees to finish tailgate activities prior to kickoff. Yale’s new rules still allow students to tailgate through the end of the second quarter.
Kickoff for Yale’s first home game is 12:00 p.m. Saturday.