UR Police Chief David McCoy will shed light on the policies and programs of the university police as part of a new column in The Collegian. Submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Does allowing student tailgating promote underage drinking?
Tailgating began as families would walk to baseball games after church on Sunday. The communal hours between the service and start of the game were the beginning of tailgating.
The trajectory of tailgating from this point to evolving into an Southeastern Conference (SEC) tradition of the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" is a story for another time, but it is the foundation for the question.
It has created challenges and mild tension for universities and campus law enforcement concerning access, equity and quantity of alcoholic beverages.
With the opening of Robins Stadium on Sept. 18, 2010, policies were put into place to establish tailgating areas, as well as designated areas in which alcohol can be consumed as part of tailgating activities. These policies, combined with common-sense discretion, has led to a great game day experience for our fans.
On average, about 25 percent of undergraduate students are 21 years old at the beginning of the fall semester, and that may increase to about 40 percent by the end the spring semester.
The course of creating a student tailgating experience and building a football tradition for our students is an ongoing process with a strong commitment from groups such as the Richmond Rowdies, Athletics and Student Development.
After reviewing parking patterns over the past couple of years, Student Development recommended a student tailgating area for the 2013 football season. R-20, or Jepson Hall lot, was selected because it was the closest lot to the stadium that was not already dedicated as a reserved lot.
This lot has 65 parking spaces reserved for all student groups and organizations in an effort to enhance the game day experience. Providing entertainment and food created a great start to the season.
From the law enforcement perspective, we would like to see the student tailgating area filled with students enjoying the tailgate and then the game. I believe university support and awareness of policies can lead to a successful student tailgate without promoting underage drinking.
If you have any suggestions to improve tailgating, I would like to hear them.