Duke’s revamped tailgating program is off to a promising start, students said.
The new DevilsGate tailgating program—unveiled prior to Duke’s 55-0 victory against North Carolina Central University—aims to spark Duke football’s social scene. Tailgating options had been limited in prior years due to concerns over dangerous behavior, especially after a 14-year-old was found unconscious in a Porta Potty in 2010. Senior Bryan Dinner, primary architect of the new program and DSG vice president for social culture, said the program addresses the safety issue.
The revamped program requires that students follow Last Day of Classes alcohol policies and that each tent has two trained party monitors. Despite concern that these restrictions could produce dissatisfaction, student reactions suggest that the party monitors did not disturb the experience.
“Personally, I don’t see why we need any monitors, but if there is more safety, I guess more responsible drinking [will happen],” senior Tong Xu said.
Several found the presence of party monitors to be a step in the right direction that would create a safer atmosphere.
“I think that’s a great thing because it’s always good to have people making sure things are happening responsibly,” said Brian Buhr, a freshman. “I think that’s really commendable.”
A number of students also said that DevilsGate’s location on the Main West Quadrangle has the potential to build community. Before it was canceled in 2010, the old form of tailgate took place in several parking lots in the Blue Zone. Despite the distance between Main Quad and Wallace Wade Stadium, students liked the new location.
“I’m just excited for everyone to gather and be together more,” said Allison Heredia, a sophomore. “We had it for some of the games last year, but we’re still kind of working on building that football culture. Having it on Main Quad is a lot better.”
Although most students came into the event unsure what to expect, many felt that the tailgate—especially the music and National Pan-Hellenic Council’s annual stroll show—was an enjoyable experience overall.
“I really didn’t have any expectations,” Buhr said. “It’s pretty cool. I like the performances they’re putting on up there, and [it] seems like a really nice atmosphere.”
Dinner was very enthusiastic about the event’s turnout and reaction, calling the new program a “success.”
The revamped program debuted prior to a sold-out contest at the new Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium. And with home games against No. 23 Northwestern University and No. 14 Georgia Institute of Technology coming up, the atmosphere inside the stadium could have an even bigger impact moving forward.
“We had a very large, open, on-campus event that supported football and our school community,” Dinner wrote in an email. “We ran out of food, if that gives any indication of our expectations and turnout. I have received amazing feedback on everything, and I think people are excited for Northwestern.”
Despite the number of positive responses, other student reactions were more tepid. Sophomore Kavi Sakraney, for example, noted that although this year is definitely a step up from in the past, there is considerable room for improvement in the weeks to come.
“So far, so good,” Sakraney said. “I hope more people come out, but so far, so good.”