In the wake of Harvard’s ban on all alcoholic beverages entering the Harvard-Yale football game tailgate this year in Cambridge, many Yale alumni have criticized the new policy, which they say upends the annual tradition of the Game.
Harvard announced last Tuesday that no one will be permitted to bring alcohol into the student tailgate, and only attendees over the age of 21 will be able to purchase alcoholic drinks from professional stands in the tailgate area. Many Yale alumni planning to attend the event expressed dismay at the new rules, while others said they do not think the move will put a damper on the usually festive atmosphere.
Harvard College Dean Benedict Gross said in an e-mail to House Committee chairs last week that the university police department will enforce the ban on alcoholic beverages entering Ohiri Field, and only those with a Yale or Harvard ID could participate in the student tailgate.
The e-mail sent by Gross also stipulates that “no one entering the student tailgate area will be allowed to bring in any beverages of any kind.”
Chiraag Bains ’03, who plans to attend the game, said the alcohol policy might discourage younger alumni who are looking forward to participating in their former residential college tailgates from attending.
“It’s definitely going to be a noticeable change,” he said.
Bains said that although he supports Harvard’s effort to ensure student safety during the game, he hopes Yale will not implement a similar policy in the future.
David Barcelo ’00, who said he plans to attend the game for the first time in 10 years, said he is surprised by the decision despite what he described as a long-term trend in “that general direction.”
“A huge part of the game is the tailgate, and a huge part of the tailgate is to drink and enjoy yourself without worrying about waiting in lines and bringing a lot of money to buy beer,” he said.
Barcelo said he suspects that Harvard’s ban on beverages in the tailgate except for drinks purchased on-site may be a “racket.”
“I’m sure they’re doing it for safety reasons, but it sounds like they’ll be making a buck,” he said.
Barcelo said he once attended a Harvard-Yale game where several students distributed beer from a shopping cart in a “fun and friendly” manner at the tailgate.
“I have that image burned in my head,” he said. “But it seems that the ‘beer fairy’ is not going to happen again.”
Debbie Gary ’79, who attended the Harvard-Yale game when the legal drinking age was 18, also expressed concern that this year’s game would be less lively.
“[Drinking] made it quite festive for the most part and certainly would contribute to the idea that one would stick around after the game,” she said.
But other Yale alumni said they did not think the new policy would take away from the Harvard-Yale tradition and said it may even be a step in the right direction.
Peter Amershadian ’69 said banning alcohol is ultimately Harvard’s decision to make.
“If it’s a Harvard policy, they have the right to do what they want,” he said. “Everything upsets somebody.”
Jeffrey Klineman ’04 said he attends the game almost every year because it is always a “fun party scene.” Klineman said he does not expect the new policy to significantly impact the liveliness of the tailgate.
“I don’t know that any ban on alcohol has ever been an impediment to the consumptive spirit of the Yale undergrad,” he said.
Harvard’s official statement about the new game policies this year did not indicate whether Yale alumni could attend the event, raising the possibility that they would be barred from the tailgate. But Associate Dean of Harvard College Judith Kidd said that despite rumors to the contrary, Yale alumni will be able to attend the student tailgate by purchasing a ticket at the Harvard box office or in the athletic area the day of the game. Kidd said Harvard’s game policies for alumni have not changed from those for the 2004 game.
“We welcome Yale alums who purchase a ticket,” she said.
Harvard spokesman Robert Mitchell said a specific tailgate area for alumni outside of the stadium will be arranged.
“It’ll be very similar to what it’s always been,” he said about the alumni tailgate. “Specifics just haven’t been nailed down yet.”