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Larry Moneta? NOT an idiot. Seriously.

Ask and ye shall receive my friends. Dr. Larry Moneta (a super-nice guy, might I reiterate) recently invited me to drop by his office to discuss the future of Tailgate. I'll let the transcript speak for itself.

So are there changes ahead for Tailgate?

We welcome tailgating. Tailgating is a historic and well-enjoyed form of pre-football socializing and community building, and I look forward to that happening. There won't, however, be a single designated zone for student tailgating.

So if students were to make an effort to congregate in the traditional area of the Blue Zone?

There won't be space for them. Instead, we're talking about a whole other set of activities we can do with students. I met with PanHel last week and discussed programs that might be independent of the tailgating Saturday morning-barbeques and other kinds of activities.

What has happened over the past year that has caused you to reexamine tailgating?

We've invested two years in trying to keep tailgating safe, and it's just an extremely unsafe situation.

How, specifically?

Injuries, hospitalizations.

How many incidents would you estimate occurred?

Over the past two years we've had.20 hospitalizations, a number of post-tailgate incidents and drunk-driving incidents. I'm exercising my 33 years of judgment here, and I'm telling you it's an unsafe situation. It's great fun for a lot of people, but it's reached a crescendo. It's not been for a lack of effort-we've been working with students for two years now trying to try to make it safe-and have concluded that it's not safe.

So what about this year's Tailgate monitoring system?

It's failed-students will tell you it has failed. A bunch of those PanHel presidents unilaterally pulled out simply because they were tired of being assaulted. They couldn't do it any more.

You mention students being out of control. I feel we all know that the lacrosse team contributes to the unsafe nature of the event.

I'm not going to talk about the lacrosse team.

A lot of people feel that changing Tailgate will create more social situations where you won't be able to monitor students. Aren't people just going to take drinking in their dorms, off-campus, et cetera?

Students are going to have to make choices, and I'm not going to take responsibility for every bad decision some students make. We're going to do our best to help students make smart decisions, trying to create new rituals with Duke Union, the greek system and lots and lots of students to create new activities. I think in terms of on-campus behavior, we have quite good procedures for working with students and working with various agencies on campus to make sure that our events on campus are well-managed.

Have you talked to student groups about these changes?

Oh yeah, I've had summer meetings with students. I had meetings last fall with DSG, IFC, PanHel, Campus Council, Jay Ganatra, Jesse [Longoria] and Jay McKenna. This year I've met with Ivan [Mothershead] and Chrissie [Gorman]. There have been ongoing conversations that are non-stop.

When you met with these student leaders, was there an understanding that they would pass along the details of these discussions?

I can't speak for them, but they certainly had frank conversations with me. There was no mystery, no surprises. I shared my beliefs about the unsafety of tailgating from within 48 hours of the last one.

Conversations have certainly started, but they seem to be in the "I heard from him who heard from this guy who heard from this guy" fashion.

I think I've had very direct conversations.

So if there has been a breakdown in communication, it's on the students' side?</b?

I'm not accussing anyone.

I'm surprised that The Chronicle hasn't picked up on this story. They obviously have their hands full, but no one has tried to contact you?

Saidi [Chen] has called a couple times, and I've said, 'Look, The Chronicle is not where I'm going with my conversation; The Chronicle is not my news outlet, that's for the students.'

What would your idealized vision of tailgate look like?

People gathering in small groups, intimate fun activities and everyone going to the football game. Tailgating is a pre-football activity.

So you envision students in parking lots, on the quads.

There might be quad barbeques. Some may want to gather at private houses, Central Campus, I don't want to discourage anything, as long as it reflects a pre-football experience. This is all about supporting our football team and the notion of getting enthusiastic about supporting the team, not an independent activity. That's what tailgating is for, that's what it's about and that's what we want to restore. They deserve our support; they work very hard under very difficult circumstances.

Greg Czaja is a Trinity junior. This is his final column.


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