Students split over tailgate changes

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Photo by YDN.

An administrative decision to tighten tailgate regulations in response to a fatal U-Haul crash at last November’s Yale-Harvard tailgate has generated mixed responses from fraternity leaders and students alike.

While the changes to tailgating policies announced in a Thursday email from University Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer drew strong criticism from some students, others said they understood the reasons behind implementing stricter rules. The new tailgating policies have banned kegs and most oversized vehicles from future athletic events, established a “vehicle-free” area for student tailgating and instructed students to leave tailgating areas by the start of the game. Though fraternity leaders and students interviewed were divided over the necessity of the new policies, most said the regulations will reduce campus enthusiasm for future tailgates.

Two of four fraternity presidents interviewed said they understood the University’s decision to tighten tailgate regulations, but the other two thought the new rules were a misguided response to the November incident, which killed one person and injured two more.

Jamey Silveira ’13, president of Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, said he thought administrators were “justified” in their response, though he added that the new policy will be “tough” on fraternities and students. Silveira said the stricter rules will likely decrease the amount of alcohol present at tailgates because kegs are much cheaper than their natural alternative, beer cases.

“The administration has every right to do everything they think will go towards preventing [another accident],” he said. “They are literally trying to protect us and whoever is trying to attend the tailgate, and unfortunately I can’t put my fun — or the fun of my fraternity and group of friends — ahead of the personal safety of people who want to have a good time at tailgates.”

But Ben Singleton ’13, last semester’s president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, said in a Thursday email that the new rules do not specifically target the problems that caused November’s accident.

Rather than banning U-Hauls and kegs, Singleton said administrators could have limited the times the vehicles were allowed to arrive and depart sites. He added that he thinks the new policies — particularly the bans — will discourage SAE from hosting tailgating activities in the future.

“Beer, like hotdogs and hamburgers, is often a fun part of the tailgating experience,” he said. “If consumed responsibly, there shouldn’t be any problems. The University seems to suggest through its rules that Yale students have such little control over their desire to drink that the University needs to ban it.”

Singleton said he expects the tightened regulations will lower student participation at tailgates and harm alumni perceptions of the events. But 16 of 20 students interviewed said the new regulations will not significantly affect whether they attend tailgates.

Pat Dolan ’13, president of Sigma Phi Epsilon, declined to comment for this article. The U-Haul that crashed in November was carrying kegs and bound for the fraternity’s tailgate at the Yale Bowl’s Lot D.

Three students responsible for organizing residential college tailgates said they will be especially inconvenienced by the oversized vehicle ban. Jimmy Murphy ’13, co-president of Davenport College Council, said he thinks the difficulty of transporting materials without a U-Haul and finding nearby parking spaces will discourage colleges from hosting tailgates.

Nine students interviewed who are not involved with planning tailgate activities said they think the new rules are unfair.

“I think the administration threw the baby out with the bathwater this time,” Uriel Epshtein ’14 said. “Some changes are probably necessary, such as banning U-Hauls, but ending the tailgate at kick off? That’s dumb. People are just as dangerous before kick off as they are after.”

Administrators will continue to evaluate the University’s tailgating logistics, which include parking and crowd control strategies, according to Lorimer’s email.

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