The Collegian
Wednesday, May 25, 2022

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New football tailgating plan divides students, administration

Student Activities introduced a student tailgating opportunity before the football game against Virginia Military Institute last Saturday that received mixed feedback from the university community.

Starting this year, any student organization can register with Student Activities for free to have one parking spot in lot R20, which is near the Carole Weinstein International Center and the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, said Tonya Dawson, Student Activities' assistant director of programming.

The new system is more accessible to students and places a strong emphasis on the integration of all student organizations, said Alison Keller, director of Student Activities.

"There hasn't been anything comparable to this before," Keller said. "The goal was to create a unified student tailgating experience that replicated the other tailgating on campus."

Last Saturday, 20 student organizations, both Greek and non-Greek, had spots at the tailgate and more than 500 students attended the event, Dawson said.

Senior Joshua Grice, president of the Richmond Rowdies, said he was supportive of this change.

"Before, the tailgating system had a tendency to just be Greek," Grice said. "But the new space creates a familial atmosphere."

He added that lot R20 was secluded from alumni and other tailgating groups, making it a space that was truly designated for the student body.

Grice said he also enjoyed having radio station Q94 represented at Saturday's tailgate. Student tailgaters could not play music at the former location (outside the fraternity lodges) because other tailgating groups near that area complained, he said.

But there is a group of students who are upset about the change in location, said senior Thomas Griego, a member of the fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon.

In previous years, fraternities registered with OrgSync to host tailgate events at their lodges. But Griego said that many members of Greek organizations were now unhappy with lot R20 because they do not have the advantage of a building.

"Some people are complaining because they like to drink a lot at these events," Griego said, "but now out in the open, it's a riskier option."

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Griego also said that graduates would be upset that they had no lodge event to return to at football games. "If you're an alum, it's going to be weird now," he said. "[The new location] takes away from the nostalgic feeling."

Keller said that Student Activities and campus police enforce all federal, state and local laws regarding alcohol. "We're trying to create a tailgate, not a drink-fest," she said.

Randy Baran, the URPD patrol sergeant who worked at Saturday's tailgate, said that lot R20 was "definitely easier" to monitor than the lodges had been. He said that no alcohol-related issues were reported on Saturday.

Baran said that in the past, the only two tailgating lots where alcohol was permitted were B3 and B5, which are available for donors and season ticket holders. Students were only allowed into these lots if they were with someone who had purchased a corresponding parking permit, Baran said.

He said that if police discovered underage drinking, open containers or students who were drunk in public in lot R20, they would adhere to state-code consequences.

Grice said that the Richmond Rowdies planned to involve more students by offering games and fun competitions at future tailgates this season. The next tailgating event will be Sept. 21 before the 6:00 p.m. game against Liberty University.

Contact Collegian Reporter Catherine Sinclair at catherine.sinclair@richmond.edu

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