As the countdown to the Yale-Harvard football game begins, the administration’s new tailgate rules have yielded a mix of relief and concern from students at both schools.
Yale’s new rules mark the University’s first regulation of tailgate activities in the history of The Game, said Colleen Lim, Yale senior associate director of varsity sports. The rules — which include a ban on drinking game paraphernalia and state that all tailgate parties must shut down by the end of halftime — will be enacted for the first time at the football game against Brown University on Saturday, Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg said.
Yale Police Lt. Michael Patten said the new rules are not a reaction to a particular incident, but to a growing complaints about alcohol consumption at Yale and other universities around the country. But some students at both Harvard and Yale said they do not understand what prompted Yale to change its policy this year.
Harvard junior Amalia della Paolera said while she understands Yale’s safety concerns, the new rules do not take into account the fact that students come to Yale-Harvard for more than just the football game. She said by limiting the tailgates, the regulations undermine excitement surrounding the 130-year-old tradition.
“I think the rules reflect the administration’s increasing focus on the game rather than the students’ camaraderie throughout the whole weekend.” della Paolera said. “I really think that compromises students’ abilities to show their school spirit in their own way.”
While the regulations, which were announced by the Yale College Dean’s Office last week, are more lenient than the Harvard policy that limited the presence of alcohol at last year’s Harvard-Yale tailgates, some students said they think the new rules will put a damper on the weekend.
Zach Turnbull ’07 said the absence of serious incidents at past home games makes Yale’s reasons for the new policies questionable.
“I think tailgating is about the whole game experience,” Turnbull said. “After 130 years … to change it now seems kind of silly. It kind of sucks that we have to mimic Harvard, because notoriously Yale as a school is more fun.”
Ben Click, a Harvard senior and co-chair of the Adams House Committee, said he thinks ending the tailgates early is antithetical to Yale’s safety goals because it will lead to faster alcohol consumption by students.
“Either way, we will have four kegs,” he said. “We will just have to drink them by the third quarter.”
While several Harvard and Yale students said they are unhappy about the limitation, others said they do not mind the tailgates finishing early. Many students said the new rules are much better than those of last year’s game in Cambridge.
Harvard’s 2004 regulations included a ban on kegs and U-Hauls and a limit on the maximum amount of alcohol each fan was allowed to carry into the tailgates.
Blair Golden ’07 said last year’s rules did not prevent students from binge drinking, but made the whole experience more difficult for fans.
“They seemed excessive and inefficient,” she said. “It seemed to cause a lot of problems without really solving any of the issue that they intended to solve.”
Click said the early closing of the tailgate parties is much less detrimental to the spirit of the tailgates than Harvard’s ban on kegs last year.
“Being able to bring in kegs is more important than the early cutoff [in] creating the kind of atmosphere you want to have at the tailgates,” he said.
Click said while those who attend Yale-Harvard solely for the purpose of drinking and socializing all day will be most affected by the limitation, he will be happy to comply with the rule because he is also interested in the football game itself.
The tailgates are already less crowded during the latter part of the game, Golden said, because students begin drinking well before the game begins.
“It won’t have a huge impact, because a lot of students are ready to clear out by halftime anyway,” she said.
Though many Yale students said they appreciate the leniency of the new tailgating rules in comparison to those at last year’s Game in Cambridge, some said they are unhappy with the ban on drinking games.
“I don’t think drinking games are that dangerous,” Joe Leone ’06 said. “I don’t think many people go to the hospital from playing beer pong.”
Other students said that while they recognize that the new rules are meant to promote safety, the regulations are ambiguous and will be inefficient.
Brett Andrews ’08 said he thinks the term “drinking paraphernalia” is especially unclear and will be difficult to enforce.
“The spirit is still good because they are more about are safety as opposed to not letting us have fun, [but] I feel like it’s going to be really hard to implement these rules because they are kind of vague.”
The new regulations also ban tailgaters from sitting or standing on top of vehicles.