Students prepare for stricter Harvard-Yale tailgate

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Photo by Yale Daily News.

In 10 days, students from both Harvard and Yale will swarm the tailgate village next to the Yale Bowl. Though Yale administrators have imposed strict regulations on the tailgate itself, students remain excited about the variety of other intercollegiate events before and after The Game.

Following the Harvard-Yale tailgate at the Yale Bowl in 2011 — in which a woman was struck and killed by a U-Haul truck — Yale administrators tightened student tailgate policies, banning kegs and vehicles in the village and forcing tailgates to end upon kickoff. Though these regulations have been in effect for nearly two years now, Nov. 23 is the first time since the 2011 incident that The Game has been held at Yale — and students from Harvard and Yale expressed mixed feelings as to whether this year’s experience will match those of previous years.

In a Harvard Crimson article last month, Harvard students said they were concerned that The Game will not live up to its reputation this year. But Yale students interviewed said they do not believe this is the case.

“I think in general the expectations for the tailgates have been pretty low, but from what I have seen, everyone has had a blast at the ones they’ve attended,” said Connor Durkin ’16, a member of Yale’s Alpha Delta Phi fraternity. “Of course, people will be particularly excited for The Game so I have high hopes for the tailgate ­— it should be a great time.”

Fraternity leaders said that they have not yet begun to plan their respective tailgates. But in an effort to fill the weekend with activities outside of the tailgate this year, student organizations from both colleges are holding more events than they have in past years. Several Yale fraternities are planning mixers with Harvard sororities and final clubs, and Rhythmic Blue, Yale’s hip-hop dance group, is facing off against Harvard’s Expressions Dance Company in a dance-off on Friday night.

The tailgate itself on Nov. 23 will be held adjacent to Yale’s Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center, and hard alcohol will be prohibited in the tailgating area. These regulations mirror Harvard’s tailgate regulations, which have been in place for several years prior to Yale’s.

Though Yale has traditionally been known to impose more relaxed rules on Harvard-Yale weekends, Yale students interviewed said they are generally supportive of Yale’s tailgate policy changes, adding that they do not think the policies will cause either the tailgate nor the game itself to suffer.

“The key to a great tailgate are turnout and student energy,” said Leander McCormick-Goodhart ’15, president of Yale’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. “Students just need to be enthusiastic and positive — with this attitude, I am confident that we will have a great tailgate.”

Alex Noonan ’14 said she believes the changes to be an appropriate response, because the 2011 Harvard-Yale Game was a “disaster.” Julian Drucker ’16 also said he thinks the changes are beneficial, adding that the new tailgating time restrictions — which prohibit tailgates from lasting beyond three hours, with the exception of a four-hour time frame for The Game — should not cause an issue.

“People [still] have plenty of time to do whatever they need to do to get in the zone for the game,” he said.

Anne O’Brien ’16 said she has never personally been to a Yale football game, but many of her upperclassmen friends have told her that they feel positively about the tailgating policy changes. She said she would support Yale in whatever the University chooses to do to make The Game as safe as possible.

While Yale administrators said that Yale students have generally been supportive of the new rules and regulations, they emphasized the need to ensure that these same guidelines are well communicated to visitors from Harvard.

“[The] only concern with Harvard is making sure they understand what exactly is going on,” said Assistant Athletic Director Andy Dunn.

The Nov. 23 tailgate will commence at 8:30 a.m. The Game will kick off at noon.

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