Tailgate’s replacement will be replaced.
Following several months of negotiations, students and administrators have developed New Tailgating, an alternative for Football Gameday and Tailgate, and secured a location for the upcoming Fall—a recreation field across from Koskinen Stadium, said Duke Student Government President Alexandra Swain, a senior. The new location and creation of a student tailgating team will address student concerns of the lack of community and student input during the planning and running of Football Gameday.
“With having everybody spread out [in Football Gameday], you didn’t have the same feel as the original Tailgate,” Swain said. “We wanted a space where the student body could be in one centralized location, somewhere that made sense for the main event—football.”
Michael Sobb, associate director of athletics for external affairs, said the new location will play an integral role in ensuring the link between the tailgating event and the football games.
Students will have to walk past the stadium before heading back to West Campus or their residence halls, reminding them of the football game, said former DSG President Pete Schork, Trinity ’12.
A student tailgating committee—consisting of members from DSG, the Panhellenic Council, the Interfraternity Council and the Duke University Union—began meeting at the end of February to spearhead the planning of a new tailgating tradition, Swain said. Although the first part of planning—securing a location for the event—has been completed, the committee is still in the logistical planning stages.
“I am envisioning a nice, chill event where students will be throwing around frisbees, playing Cornhole and interacting with students we may not see on a daily basis,” she said. “We’re looking into getting student DJs at the new tailgate event.”
Swain noted that the student committee will hold several meetings throughout the next couple of months with staff from athletics, student affairs, groundskeeping and recreation to fine tune and hash out other details surrounding the event.
The word “tailgate,” which was buried last Fall by the administration, is being resurrected in the hopes that it will convey the word’s more traditional connotation.
“The goal is to have the essence of ‘Tailgate’ go back to being a verb rather than a noun,” Sobb noted. “Tailgating is a time to get together with friends and have a good time, but as always the focus should be on the game.”
Known to many as a dangerous practice, Tailgate was cancelled in Nov. 2010 after a minor, who was the younger sibling of a student, was found unconscious in a Porta Potty. Football Gameday, adopted in Fall 2011, decentralized the event by having registered student groups host individual barbecues on the Main West Quadrangle in an effort to improve safety.
“Gameday was not well-liked,” Schork said. “What the [Football Gameday] model lacked was a greater level of student ownership.”
The new tailgating model, Swain said, will adopt a tailgating team—a group of 20 to 25 students, who will essentially serve a similar purpose as line monitors by helping plan the events and create a vision of everyday tailgating to get University students excited for the football games. The addition of this student-led team will ensure that students have more autonomy with Tailgate. She added that the selection of members for the team will begin in early August.
Similar to Football Gameday, New Tailgating will encourage registered student groups to host barbecues. A model for distributing food at the event, however, has not yet been solidified, Swain noted.
Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, noted that in proposing new models for Gameday, students and administrators consulted other forms of tailgate activities at different universities, including Wake Forest University.
“In the end, it’s important to find [a model] that is distinctive to Duke—one that will fundamentally serve as a building opportunity for the community and fit the community’s aspirations for the event,” Moneta said.
The new tailgate event will follow the University’s regulation on alcohol, which stipulates a six-pack per person rule in addition to barring common distribution and shot glasses. These policies, which were applied for Football Gameday, are the same ones implemented on the Last Day of Classes. Both Moneta and Schork noted that it is critical that students comply with the pending new tailgating guidelines to ensure that it can continue to take place.
“If all goes according to plan, it will be a great opportunity to get more students who usually do not attend football games to attend,” Schork said. “The idea is to have it be more about community and football and less about throwing beer cans.”