The poor performance on the field last year just nearly eclipses the poor tailgating atmosphere. What is often seen as the highlight of the fall for undergrads, the tailgating scene came to a screeching halt after a viral video surfaced after the WKU game. The primary tailgate choice for fraternities next to the tennis courts was the scene of a nasty fight, with the video displaying the victim getting kicked in the head while he was down. While students may like to think that President Eli Capilouto hates music and all things fun, he was forced ban students from tailgating in “The Bowl” the following week. Once the ban was lifted, most fraternities (the ones that don’t like fun) decided the risk was way too high for the reward of drunken debauchery. The only thing that students could still cling to was now gone, leaving the administration and Student Government (SGA) scrambling for solutions to get kids ‘back in the game’.
The University’s Solution
Last month, SGA President Roshan Palli and other University administrators met with representatives from every Greek organization on campus. After working with Dr. Capilouto, UKPD, and other University bureaucrats the SGA submitted the Greeks a “new” proposal for tailgating this fall. I use quotations because upon first look, nothing seemed that different at all. The new plan works as follows:
1. Rather than submitting for permits to use tailgating spots around either Gluck Equine Center, The Goodbarn, or inside “The Bowl”, now all Greeks will tailgate within the confined areas between Cooper Dr. and the tennis courts (a.k.a “The Bowl). Excluding special Parent’s Weekend or Alumni events, all 35 Greek organizations will call “The Bowl” their home for tailgating season.
2. Dr. Capilouto doesn’t hate dancing: he is providing the crowd with a space for one DJ/band. This doesn’t differ much from the past, so do not think that this is more restrictive than normal.
3. The largest asset that Greeks have acquired is the ability to grill out in their respective space. Even though I remember eating delicious grilled food at most fraternity tailgates, we don’t have to break the rules anymore.
4. Now for the thing on every students mind, “Will I get cited for drinking?” Students over-21 have nothing to worry about, unless they are distributing alcohol to underaged kids. For those pursuing a delicious cold beverage, it’s in your best interest to bring your own cooler. Any drinks left “unattended or in plain view” is strictly forbidden. Translation: the days of filling a giant tub you stole from Commons with beer and ice are over. Unless you have the booze relatively hidden and a bartender on duty at all times, you (and most likely your organization) are essentially asking for the Cops to pay a visit.
One of the biggest requests by the general audience was to set aside a specific area for student tailgating. By creating “The Bowl” as the designated tailgating space, they have found a convenient spot between campus and CWS that is easily patrolled by UKPD, whose main command center lies directly adjacent on Cooper Drive. The biggest goal in the University’s Pilot Project is to create an atmosphere of compliance between the University, the students, and the police. The purpose of the meeting was to bring the news to the rest of the Chapter, encouraging them, “If you don’t mess up, then we (UKPD) won’t mess you up”. This charge to take more personal responsibility for your own stupid drunk actions, is the mature approach to an EXTREMELY COMPLICATED situation.
Why It Won’t Work
None of this matters to me personally AT ALL. I’m 21, and sit in the press box for all of the games. However, the Stoops transition will bring football to new heights, and I’d like to see tailgating take similar strides.
1. Underaged drinkers will NOT be responsible. While you may think that’s an immature statement, do not be naive. The most reckless individuals on campus are Fraternity pledges or Sorority ‘Littles’ that are experiencing life without Mommy and Daddy for the first time. As a generalization, they don’t know what self-control is and they probably think they can kick anyone’s ass that messes with them. These kids also don’t have a place to drink. Instead of bars, tailgates act as an oasis for partying. The most fun times I had as a Freshman happened at a tailgate. Lastly, most kids could honestly give two shits about the cops (or any type of authority for that matter). Receiving a citation can sometimes be a glorifying process. My Dad worked in the downtown Louisville drunk tank for years, providing me with a universal lesson, “Drunk people have no logic”. These kids are just drunk, they’re shwasted (trashed, blackout, what ever you wanna call it). Convincing them to learn about responsibility without having to learn the hard way, can’t happen by mandating a few simple-minded AlcoholEdu online classes.
2. Using “The Bowl” creates too many problems. As I said earlier, not everyone used “The Bowl” as their tailgate spot, usually opposing self-imposed limitations of 3-5 Fraternities at once. By adding a dozen groups to the small, rather smelly area, they are creating a cluster(bleep). I haven’t seen many fights since I arrived on campus three years ago, but the only ones I’ve seen or heard from have came from “The Bowl”. UK has given the students a space, but it isn’t the best.
3. The Frats will get crushed. After hearing stories from my father’s time at UK in the 70s, I think most of the rules imposed by IFC (Fraternities’ governing body) and the University are stupid, but I realize it is because the threat of liability is at an all-time high. With that being said, Greek organizations WILL HOLD LIABILITY when someone gets in trouble in their spot. While the administrators reassured the crowd that it is not the case, the University’s anti-Greek ideology will show (I believe the amount of Frats kicked off-campus in my 3 years has reached double-digits). While individuals will be the ones receiving the citation, if multiple underaged kids are arrested at a Frat’s specific cite, it will show in the record that passes through the Dean of Students Office. They assured us that they “wouldn’t go looking” for people in various organizations, but if an officer writes in the arrest report that this person was at this organization’s spot, then they will be held accountable via Judicial Board.
A Better Solution
While I am hammering the group that came up with this pilot program, I completely understand their situation. When speaking with various members of SGA, I’ve realized the monumental task they were faced with last season. Most of it comes down to liability: there are a dozen bureaucratic organizations that must approve the plan and none of them want to get sewed when the inevitable ish hits the fan. I also understand that this comes at an awful time. Currently there is a group (very similar to the one that created this plan) that is negotiating terms of making campus “wet” again. Dr. Capilouto has the made the push to reform the rules, not making it a complete drunkfest, rather creating modified rules that would allow moderate drinking (for things like tailgates). This pilot program was designed as a quick-fix trial run, before they decide on the exact protocol regarding a “wet” campus and permanent tailgate policy. Below are my simple steps that could create one of the best tailgating atmospheres in the country.
1. Stay away from “The Bowl” and head to Gluck. While I may be biased after having many more pleasant experiences by the pond of Gluck Equine Center, it logistically makes the most sense. First, the location is pristine for promoting UK as one of the best tailgate destinations in the SEC. The pond creates a cool setting, while everyone that enters the stadium via Nicholasville Rd. will see the spectacle as soon as they enter campus. Additionally, the neighborhood directly across the street is primarily for college students, marking a perfect median for those in the dorms and those off-campus. The only other place outside of “The Bowl”, also might be the most spacious open area left in the vicinity of the stadium. The biggest upside is that this space has yet to prove to be an atmosphere that can easily create violence. (I wouldn’t mind witnessing a few swimming competitions across the pond either.)
2. Creating a registering process similar to date parties. While I have never had to personally go through the logistics of planning a party at a bar, it seems to be a fairly simple process. I may be naive in thinking this, but if organizations can receive clearance to have a sanctioned event at a bar, why not bring a bar to a sanctioned event?
3. Adding vendors. While my suggestions will most likely not even be considered, THIS SHOULD HAPPEN IMMEDIATELY. While Lexington laws might prevent this from happening, I don’t know why someone with a corn dog stand doesn’t set up shop directly next to fraternity tailgates. After drinking 10 beers, who wouldn’t throw down $6 for a state fair corn dog? This relationship is symbiotic, giving students a sobering option to keep them out of trouble while vendors roll in the dough.
For now, the situation can essentially summed up by advising you to ‘bite the bullet’. By not tailgating as an act of boycott, students give the University no reason to improve the policy. By continually displaying stupid behavior, it’s hard to see bureaucrats conceding to Capilouto’s call for a ‘wet’ campus. While I believe changing the behavioral culture is difficult inside the previous setting, all students must personally hold themselves to a behavioral norm. If you’re a freshman, don’t learn the hard way at a tailgate, wait until bike cops come busting down your house party door.
Whether or not you hate this, or find that this doesn’t apply to you at all, you can still appreciate all of the hot chicks. [email protected]