As the first home football game approaches on Sept. 8, the University Police Department (UPD) has begun its preparations for student tailgate.
Lieutenant Jef Rice says UPD’s main goal is to keep all students safe during tailgates.
“We usually have our operations planned and training down pretty good. This year we’ll have a little bit of a presence at the tailgating,” Rice said. “Other than that, we just do what we normally do- make sure everybody’s safe.”
Associate dean of students, John Howe spoke briefly about changes to tailgate at Tuesday’s Student Government Association meeting.
“What has been put forward for tailgate is largely the same but one difference would be that backpacks are not allowed in the dome,” he said.
Sawyer Stevens, a senior studying medical biology and the president of Coyotes Crazies, said size was an issue for the old student tailgate location.
“The biggest problems (with last year’s tailgate) was it was too compact,” Stevens said. “Because we had so many students and it was such a small area, that it made for a fun tailgating environment, but it was too compact that when things went down, and emergency medical support was needed for people, they weren’t even able to get into the tailgate, so that was dangerous and was a bit of a hazard.”
“We’ve come up with a few things last year that we’ve had to address things that have happened like cans and bottles being thrown,” said Rice.
Due to the hazards, the tailgate was moved from the north field to the grass area on the south side of the dome.
Stevens said the new tailgate area seemed like a necessary compromise for the student body.
“I don’t necessarily think it’s worse or better than the previous tailgate area,” said Stevens. “I think when faced with an issue, we – as a collective at USD, didn’t solve the issues that we had with the last tailgate area. We just moved it to a different location. It’s nicer that we have a bit more space, but it’s a lot harder to get into the dome for students too, so I mean it’s kind of a tradeoff.”
Rice said UPD addressed the issues and helped choose the new location last year. He said the new location allows more room for students to spread out and have their activities, tailgates, and food.
Stevens said one of the problems with the new location is promoting the attendance of students at sporting events after they attend the tailgate.
“Now it’s harder, because they’re far away from this new entrance they want (the students) to go to, and they’re closer to just going back home and not going to the game,” Stevens said. “So, it’s a bit harder to get people to go to the game from there, so that’s kind of an issue.”
Rice said the regulations will remain the same as years before. He said this includes no glass containers and no underage drinking.
“We’ll be watching for that as well, other than that, we just want everybody to have a good time and to be safe,” Rice said. “If they have any issues, we’ll have officers there, they can come up and address them with us.”
Bradley Ortner, a sophomore studying finance, said he thinks UPD does a good job at making sure students at tailgate are safe.
“I think they do a good job checking to make sure everyone is of legal age,” Ortner said. “If they continue that, I think they’ll be doing a good job.”
Rice said he asks that students attend the tailgate, but to be careful and to remember that excessive drinking can affect your ability to have a fun at the game.