The verdict is in. After the season’s first Tailgate Saturday under new guidelines, both Duke Student Government and the Duke University Police Department have determined the event was a “success.”
Just before the weekend football game against the University of Richmond, the Blue Zone was buzzing with the usual beer-soaked students, loud music and outrageous outfits. Fairies, bull-fighters, hotdogs and zebras wasted no time to celebrate the upcoming football game, and with it, the return of Tailgate season. But with the new season came new game rules.
This summer, DSG and the Office of Student Affairs released new guidelines for Tailgate. The rules mandate that all drinks must be consumed from Solo cups, prohibiting drinking from aluminum cans. The new rules also allow the use of cars and grills for different student groups under the condition that each group clean their assigned spot after the event.
Sue Wasiolek, dean of students and assistant vice president for student affairs, said DSG and the administration both hoped that the rules would help increase student freedom and responsibility. From an administrative perspective, the event succeeded in both areas.
“I think it was fantastic, I think Tailgate went well— It was organized chaos,” said DSG President Awa Nur, a senior. “To the average student, it is hard to tell by the way Tailgate looks, but every single thing that happened from administrative planning to student planning was organized and planned to a tee. Obviously, there are areas for improvement and we’ll be revisiting that, but overall, it was a success.”
Wasiolek said Tailgate was “an improvement” from last year because groups were more responsible for the behavior of their individuals.
“Groups cleaned up, there were fewer beer cans thrown,” she said. “My sense was that the overall level of abusive consumption of alcohol was lower than it has been in the past.”
DUPD Assistant Chief Gloria Graham said no citations or arrests were made during Tailgate. As for safety concerns, DSG, the Office of Student Affairs and DUPD will meet this week to discuss plans for improvement based on unsafe performances demonstrated by students climbing onto vehicles.
If the new rules were intended to lessen the level of “abusive consumption,” students were not easily deterred, as people cheered while pirates danced on top of cars and the Pope shotgunned a Busch Lite.
Although the new guidelines prohibited consumption from aluminum cans, sophomore Marcus Molchany said many students carrying cans chugged their beers to avoid security approaching with Solo cups.
“There were still a lot of beer cans on the ground and in the air,” Molchany said. “The new rule with the Solo cups just made everyone want to shotgun and drink faster, but I guess the people actually using the Solo cups were pretty reasonable about it.”
Despite enthusiasm for the success of the new rules expressed by DSG members, students noticed little to no difference in an increase in organization as a result of the new guidelines. What Nur described as “organized chaos” was referred to as a “mob scene” by freshman Ross Tucker. Still, many were pleased with the presence of cars, which students used as storage units and dancing platforms.
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“The new Tailgate rules are different but interesting at the same time,” junior Kevin Kupiec said. “They help solve the issue of Tailgate being a big rave instead of a gathering.”
Sophomore Kevin Plattenburg said the event was “more like a real Tailgate” because of the presence of cars.
Ultimately, the feedback was positive both by student groups and by DSG members.
“Generally, people felt like Tailgate was a lot of fun,” said sophomore Pete Schork, DSG vice president for athletics and campus services, who played a large role in planning the event and establishing the new rule system. “We were never trying to eliminate what was unique for Duke’s Tailgate. We want to make it an experience that more Duke students can enjoy. We’re off to a good start.”