Administrators restrict tailgating

The University announced a stricter set of tailgating regulations on Thursday in the wake of a fatal crash that occurred at the Harvard-Yale tailgate in November.

The new guidelines ban kegs and “box trucks,” establish a vehicle-free tailgating zone and require that all attendees leave the student tailgating area by kickoff. The rules were recommended by a committee formed to review tailgating practices after the death of one person and injury of two others at the Nov. 19 Harvard-Yale game, and released in a campus-wide email from University Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer. All were approved by University President Richard Levin and Yale’s other officers, and will take effect immediately.

“We thought that the whole idea is that this is a community event, a football game, and not merely an outdoor party,” Levin said. “It seemed like a way to put a proper balance between those.”

The changes follow the Nov. 19 death of Nancy Barry, which occurred when a U-Haul carrying kegs bound for the Sigma Phi Epsilon tailgate at the Yale Bowl lost control and accelerated into a crowd of people in the Bowl’s D-Lot.

A New Haven Police Department forensics investigation, begun immediately after the crash, is still ongoing, and NHPD spokesman David Hartman said Jan. 12 that it would be “quite some time” before the investigation is concluded.

Lorimer said the tighter regulations are designed to preserve the tailgating tradition for students and alumni while ensuring a safer environment for attendees.

“First and foremost, we believe there are ways to continue the tradition of tailgating,” Lorimer told the News Thursday. “But we did recognize that there were changes in our practices that would contribute to having a safer and more enjoyable event associated with athletic matches.”

Associate Vice President for Administration Janet Lindner, who oversaw the committee, said in a Thursday email that the new rules resulted from consulting with peer institutions and visiting tailgates at Harvard, the Ohio State University and Michigan University. The tighter regulations bring Yale’s policies in line with those of other Ivy League schools and institutions with large football programs, she added.

Yale College Dean Mary Miller said the committee based its recommendation to ban kegs on tailgating policies at Harvard and Princeton, noting that the decision will create consistency at tailgates hosted by Yale and its two greatest rivals.

While NHPD spokesman David Hartman said he thought the new rules were “well thought-out” and would improve the safety of events at the Yale Bowl, he added that banning kegs is different than prohibiting all alcohol.

“One should be a bit cautious when relying on the elimination of kegs as opposed to the elimination of alcohol in general,” he said. “One can get more impaired off a shot of whiskey than from kegs, but, that said, I understand the atmosphere is a lot different when you tap a keg — there’s a more free-to-drink atmosphere.”

Box trucks, which include U-Hauls, have also been banned from tailgates under the new guidelines. Director of Athletics Tom Beckett said professional catering companies will set up refreshment tables before students arrive, eliminating the need to transport cooking supplies, food and beverages to tailgates.

The student tailgate area will be “vehicle-free” except for trucks operated by the catering companies, and all attendees will have to leave by kickoff. Previous regulations required students to leave the tailgate by halftime.

With the new regulations announced, Lindner said the committee reviewing tailgating policies will next collaborate with the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security, a center at the University of Southern Mississippi that specializes in sports and stadium management, to outline tailgate logistics in more detail. She added that administrators will also consult student groups, alumni and those closely involved with Yale football for further input.

Administrators previously imposed a series of stricter tailgating rules in September, which required students to register tailgates with the Athletics Department and wear wristbands denoting whether they were of legal drinking age, and banned glass bottles and charcoal grills.

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