In the hours before Saturday’s football game, the Main Quad was markedly quieter than some would have hoped.
Fewer students attended the year’s second Football Gameday despite the administration’s decision to move more groups’ festivities to the Main West Quadrangle, administrators said. Eighteen groups registered for this week’s Gameday—the replacement for the former Tailgate—but only 14 participated.
Additionally, eight of the registered groups were allotted space on the Main Quad, a Gameday policy change based on the request of Duke Student Government leaders. Only four groups had been given space on the Main Quad for the first Gameday. But even with an increase of groups on Main Quad, just five of the eight approved groups participated, according an official list provided by Assistant Dean for Residence Life Deb LoBiondo.
“I had one student say to me that it was the most crowded they’d seen it in the library on a Saturday,” said junior Chris Brown, DSG external chief of staff.
Four fraternities—Pi Kappa Phi, Delta Tau Delta, Chi Psi and Sigma Chi—chose not to participate in Saturday’s Gameday. Two dropped out Friday, and two dropped out just before the event, LoBiondo wrote in an email Sunday.
Executive members of the four fraternities declined to comment.
The number of fraternities participating in Gameday also dropped, with only seven participating this week, as opposed to the first Gameday’s 13.
Several groups, including Pi Kappa Alpha and Kappa Alpha Order, were not invited back because they either had issues with distribution of alcohol or failed to properly clean up their site, Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek said.
Interfraternity Council President Zach Prager, a senior, said some fraternities had problems bringing their barbecue materials to the Main Quad, adding that one group chose not to participate Saturday because they were unable to park in a convenient location.
Some groups also had trouble encouraging people to attend Football Gameday, even from their own organizations.
Sophomore Lewis McLeod, a member of Sigma Nu, estimated that about one-quarter of Sigma Nu members were present at Football Gameday Saturday.
“Last year [at Tailgate], it would have been 100 percent,” McLeod said.
Although Gameday saw less participation from fraternities and other groups, it attracted more students who typically would not have attended Tailgate, said DSG President Pete Schork, a senior.
Additionally, the new festivities are proving safer than last year’s first Tailgate.
At the first Tailgate last year, Emergency Medical Services transported one student due to alcohol poisoning. In the last two weeks, there have been no incidents or medical emergencies before the football games, Duke Police Chief John Dailey wrote in an email Sunday.
“We are seeing exactly the progress we had hoped for,” Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta said.
Wasiolek added that future Football Gamedays will allow independent students to register for a spot, though they must register through their respective Quad Councils.
DSG has pushed to include groups of independent students in Football Gameday, but Brown said this policy is not yet ideal as independents still need to organize through their Quad Councils.
More groups may be added to the Main Quad in the future, Moneta said, though noting that he anticipates no changes will be made for the homecoming game. Security will be increased to monitor the celebrations, and alumni will be directed to alumni-sponsored events to deter them from trying to recreate Tailgate.
In what has been called a transition year, some students will ultimately be inconvenienced, Moneta said.
“This is the life cycle of campuses—to make improvements, we have inconveniences,” he said. “It’s the contribution we all have to make on behalf of future generations. Come back next year. None of this lasts forever.”
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