Students have found an increased security presence at football tailgates this fall as administrators crack down on underage drinking.
A committee of administrators in Yale College and the Athletics Department instituted new tailgate regulations in August for this year’s football season that most notably require all tailgaters to present valid identification to receive a wristband denoting whether they are of legal drinking age. Many students interviewed who attended Saturday’s tailgate before the Yale-Dartmouth game said the new rules detract from the tailgating experience.
“You get a feeling of being closely watched over, whether you’re of age or not,” said Ben Singleton ’13, president of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. “It increases the anxiety of the day.”
In addition to an effort to reduce underage drinking, administrators have stepped up enforcement of rules that require groups to register their kegs and that prohibit students from traveling to the fields in U-Hauls, a common practice for some fraternities.
Two leaders of fraternities interviewed said they felt the new policies restrict their groups in particular because they are traditionally the only organizations that bring alcohol to tailgates. The new regulations will force SAE to end several of its traditions, Singleton said, including morning U-Haul rides to games and the drinking of Boone’s Farm, a flavored wine that only comes in glass bottles, which were banned under the new guidelines.
“It’s part of a tailgate culture to throw couches in the back of a U-Haul and go to tailgate with buddies early in the morning,” he said.
Singleton and Jamey Silveira ’13, president of the fraternity Alpha Delta Phi, said the restrictions have discouraged many students from attending the tailgates, and Silveira added that his fraternity did not formally attend on Saturday in part because of the tighter regulations.
The requirement that a student over the age of 21 register each keg has presented a particular challenge for ADPhi because none of the older members want to risk a potential citation for serving alcohol to minors, Silveira added. At the Sept. 24 tailgate, a member of ADPhi was given a citation by a police officer for serving alcohol from a keg to an underage student, he said, adding that legal proceedings are still pending.
“Unfortunately, it’s difficult for us because nobody wants to put their name on the keg, because in the event that something happens, they’ll be responsible,” he said. “There’s inevitably some underage kid who walks up to one of the kegs and tries to get beer.”
But not all student organizations have encountered the problems faced by fraternities at the tailgate. Arturo Schultz ’14, vice president of Timothy Dwight’s Student Activities Committee, said the college’s tailgates have been similar to past years. The new tailgate rules have not affected the Pi Beta Phi sorority either, vice president for membership Natalie Papillion ’13 said, since its tailgates do not offer alcohol.
Despite the concerns of some students, Natalie Gonzalez, associate director for varsity sports administration and chair of the tailgate review committee, maintained that these new regulations have improved student safety at tailgates.
The new wristband policy has helped deter students from underage drinking, she said, adding that no students have been brought to the hospital due to alcohol consumption so far this year, an improvement from past years.
“Obviously we knew it was going to be a work in progress,” Gonzalez said. “I really think we’re moving in the right direction.”
Lt. Jay Jones of the Yale Police Department, who was present at the Saturday tailgate, said the wristband policy has been an “assistance” in preventing underage drinking before games.
Yale Police Department Assistant Chief Steven Woznyk did not respond to multiple requests for comment about tailgating on Monday.