Admins review tailgate rules

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Photo by Charlie Croom.

The University will carry out a comprehensive review of tailgating policies in response to the Nov. 19 incident at the Harvard-Yale tailgate when a U-Haul truck hit three people, killing one.

Administrators said the review, announced the same day as the incident, will focus on the logistical issues of tailgating at the Yale Bowl, including the use of U-Hauls and traffic flow. Associate Vice President for Administration Janet Lindner, who will lead the review in collaboration with the Yale College Dean’s Office and Yale Athletics, said there is not yet a timeline for the review’s completion.

“We’ve just witnessed a terrible loss, and we need to do everything in our power to put in place the sort of guidelines that can prevent such a tragedy from ever taking place again,” Yale College Dean Mary Miller said.

The Nov. 19 accident occurred around 9:39 a.m. as a U-Haul driven by Brendan Ross ’13 swerved and accelerated as it entered the tailgating area outside the Yale Bowl, striking three women before crashing into a smaller U-Haul. Nancy Barry, a 30-year-old woman from Salem, Mass., was pronounced dead at 10:16 a.m.

In addition to Yale Athletics and the Dean’s Office, the Council of Masters, the Yale Police Department and Yale Security will all be involved in the review, University Spokesman Tom Conroy said. Miller added in a Saturday email to the Yale community that the cities of New Haven and West Haven, as well as their police and fire departments, will also be consulted.

Conroy said since this year’s football season is over, there is plenty of time to conduct a thorough review before the next season.

The University already has “extensive” rules for the use of trucks at tailgates, Conroy said, such as that students cannot ride in the cargo area of trucks and that if the trucks carry alcohol, the driver must be at least 21 years old. Also, any beer kegs carried in trucks must be registered with the Athletics Department, and drivers of trucks must give their driver’s licenses and keys to the police and pass a sobriety test before they can leave the tailgate in their vehicles.

Lindner said she will examine the tailgating policies of other universities as part of the review process. Harvard has banned box trucks from its tailgate area in recent years, said Jeff Neal, a Harvard spokesman. A 2004 Harvard Crimson article said that U-Hauls were banned at Harvard because they damaged the field in the tailgate area and students were in danger of falling when they danced on top of them during the tailgates.

Yale administrators interviewed did not comment on which of the University’s tailgating rules might be subject to change.

Administrators have debated changes to tailgating rules three times in the past six years, sparking controversy among students. Yale strengthened regulations in 2005, which forbade tailgates from continuing past the end of halftime, prohibited drinking games and paraphernalia and banned students from climbing on vehicles during the festivities.

In 2007, the Council of Masters proposed a ban on U-Hauls, citing safety and health concerns. Former Council of Masters chair Judith Krauss told the News at the time that “the potential for injury is high” with U-Hauls. But the proposal was ultimately rejected, partly because students argued that U-Hauls were necessary to transport food, grills and other supplies to the tailgate.

This September, a committee of administrators in Yale College and the Athletics Department again tightened tailgate regulations. The new rules required that students wear wristbands indicating whether or not they are of legal drinking age, made all tailgates register ahead of time and banned glass bottles and charcoal grills.

Following the announcement, students spoke out against the new rules, and administrators ultimately reversed a new policy that would have forbidden alcohol from being served at residential college tailgates, though the other changes remained.

The New Haven Police Department has launched an investigation into the Nov. 19 crash, which is expected to last “weeks,” according to department spokesman David Hartman.

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