Tailgate’s replacement may soon be replaced.
Official discussions between students and administrators to craft a new working model for Football Gameday activities will take place within the next several weeks, said junior Chris Brown, Duke Student Government external chief of staff. Football Gameday, which replaced Tailgate this Fall, is being reconsidered after criticism for its low participation and lack of centrality. The latest complaint: It did not fulfill its goal of increasing football attendance throughout the season.
“Other schools have bad football teams, and people still go to the tailgate,” junior George Carotenuto said.
About 2,198 undergraduates attended the first home game of the season when Duke played the University of Richmond, according to data obtained from the DukeCard Office. For the last home game of the season versus Georgia Tech, 1,012 undergraduates attended. Only 428 undergraduates attended the Wake Forest game Oct. 22. The total undergraduate student body is approximately 6,400 students, according to Office of Undergraduate Admissions website.
Duke Athletics and the DukeCard Office were unable to provide the numbers for student attendance during the 2010-2011 football season.
Even administrators are concerned about the still-minimal support for Duke football.
“Unfortunately, the way most people frame the Gameday is thinking in terms of the party before the game,” Moneta said. “The dilemma with Gameday being in [Main West Quadrangle] or residences is that it is completely separated from the [game] taking place on the athletic campus.”
Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek said that for the last home football game of the season, only two groups registered for Gameday festivities—Delta Delta Delta sorority and the Sophomore Class Council—a significant decrease from the 18 groups who registered for the first Gameday. No fraternities participated in the last Gameday—a markedly large decrease from the 13 that participated during the first Gameday.
“Following the first [Gameday], there were fewer and fewer student groups registering for a Gameday site, so it basically petered out,” Moneta said.
The drop-off in student group registration can be explained by dissatisfaction with the Gameday model, Brown said.
“We were hoping we would have flexibility to make changes to the structure that we started with,” Brown said. “Students were excited for those, but progress was too slow, and I think students eventually became frustrated and decided to do other things with their time.”
Administrators and student leaders agreed that this year’s Football Gameday location was not optimal, and that they hope to move the event closer to the athletic campus.
“We need to be in an area near the football stadium and have something that we are all excited about and invested in,” Interfraternity Council President Zach Prager, a senior, said.
Prager also noted that not everyone in the Duke community was satisfied with Football Gameday.
“Most people don’t know that this was a discussion that started last year and went into the summer.... We couldn’t get something down that everyone wanted,” Prager said, adding that this was a transition year. “It was a sort of quick fix because it was a way to make sure that the old Tailgate was no longer alive, which is understandable after the events that occurred.”
Schork said he believes a new student governance group—composed of DSG and other interested students—is key in forming a new tailgating model with student input.
“I hope that next year we can have a normal tailgate that doesn’t involve tutus and beer everywhere but where we can still be in a central location, wearing Duke blue and having a good time before the game, like we do in K-ville—without the complete ridiculousness,” Carotenuto said.
Despite a general lack of student interest this year to attend Football Gameday activities, Wasiolek said she believes there were some bright spots in this year’s transition.
“There were a number of new groups who [participated in this year’s activities] that hadn’t really been visible in the past.... Several of them [such as Campus Crusade for Christ] were involved almost every weekend,” Wasiolek said.
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