Though streams of disappointed Yale students piled onto buses to return back to campus after the football team’s 34–7 defeat to Harvard on Nov. 23, students had been in high spirits at the tailgate before kickoff.
This year marked the first Harvard-Yale game since the University tightened tailgating regulations and changed the location of the tailgate in 2012. Despite these policy changes, students danced, chatted and celebrated in the designated tailgate village in the hours before kickoff. Though students interviewed said they were generally satisfied with the pre-game festivities, some said they were frustrated by the long lines for the shuttle to the Yale Bowl and the fact that the tailgate was required to end by kickoff.
“It is the people you are with that makes the experience, so in that regard changes in regulation and location didn’t affect the atmosphere,” John Urwin ’14 said.
This year’s tailgate was well attended, with 11 residential colleges, 10 undergraduate student organizations, nine graduate student organizations, nine Harvard houses and eight Harvard student groups holding registered tailgates, according to Assistant Athletic Director Andy Dunn.
Though Dunn said he does not know the exact number of attendees at the tailgate, he said nearly 5,000 wristbands were given out to individuals over the age of 21 to signify that they could drink alcohol on the premises.
“The athletic department is happy with how the tailgate went,” Dunn said. “We had a great turnout and think that everyone in attendance had a very positive experience.”
Yale administrators tightened student tailgate policies after a woman was struck and killed by a U-Haul truck during the Harvard-Yale tailgate in 2011. The new rules banned kegs and vehicles in the village and required tailgates to end by kickoff at 12 p.m. At the time, many students were apprehensive about the effect the regulations would have on their tailgating experience.
Though students interviewed said this year’s tailgate was a success, some expressed dissatisfaction with various aspects of the event.
Ben Mallet ’16 said the student section of the tailgate this year was crowded, disorganized and hard to navigate.
Residential colleges provided catered food for their students in tents around the tailgate village, but these stations had to close before kickoff. As a result, two students interviewed said food was no longer being served by the time they arrived at the tailgate. Many students also faced long lines for the shuttle between Payne Whitney Gymnasium and the Yale Bowl.
“I waited 50 minutes in the cold and missed most of the tailgate,” Mujtaba Wani ’17 said.
The student tailgate village was located outside gate C, adjacent to Yale’s Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center. When The Game was held at Yale in 2011, the tailgate was located on the intramural fields.
In a message to the Yale community after the tailgate location was changed in 2012, Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry said the new location “offers plenty of entertainment, food, souvenirs and the chance to cheer on the team as the Yale Band leads it into the stadium.”
Under the changed regulations, all students over 21 were allowed to have two free beers in the beer garden, which was open from 10 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. All guests, students and alumni entering the student tailgate area were required to present valid identification, and those over 21 received a wristband.
Alumni also faced new restrictions this year. Parking permits had to be purchased in advance, and there were limitations on the size of vehicles that could enter the lots.
50,934 people attended The Game this year.