Students criticize tailgate rules

Photo by Sharon Yin.

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.


  • piersonpiersoncollege

    These new tailgate rules are entirely in contradiction with Yale’s stance on drinking on campus, which focuses not on restricting inevitable underage drinking, but rather on promoting an environment in which students don’t have to choose between getting help when they need it and having a clean record. The underage students who continue to come out to tailgates and who decide to drink can’t afford to be caught with a cup, so their best option becomes chugging whatever drinks they intend to imbibe when they’ve checked to see that cops aren’t around.This method of drinking makes it much harder to pace oneself between drinks and to make wise decisions about how much liquor to ultimately drink. And for the students discouraged to come out to tailgate by these new policies – the football team struggles to draw a crowd enough as it is. I am baffled by the reasoning behind implementing these new policies.

  • Opinionated

    Well, the obvious solution is to get rid of the kegs and carry hard liquor. In hip flasks (my old roomie has one he might be willing to sell). Hidden away from your body. Used surreptitiously. Keeping an eye out for the fuzz.

    Just like your great-grandaddy did in 1928.

    Maybe you kids can find come raccoon coats in the thrift shops, or something, to make the retro-experience even more authentic. Straw hats, too!

    23 skidoo!

    We’ll see how well that works.

  • kdaysandtou

    Who makes these rules? Every year there’s a slight change that results in either more lenient or more strict policy. The stricter years get a couple frat guys in trouble, save one or two dumb freshman from an afternoon at Yale Health, and annoy everybody else. It does not change the drinking culture in any significant way. I don’t know who thinks it’s a wonderful idea to tweak the policy every year, but all it does is scare people for about a day and screw over the one or two people who get a citation. It’s just annoying. Please stop.

  • silliwin01

    What I don’t understand is how these police officers can legitimately think they are doing their community a service repressing a mostly victimless crime instead of working to reduce the rampant drug smuggling and street crime that still afflict New Haven. Or are they cynically abusing their power, full aware they are simply satisfying a primal urge to exert authority while neglecting the principles on which they ostensibly take up their badge?

    (My hometown is protected by the county sheriff so I am not familiar with how east coast police departments work.)