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By Kayla Pickrell, Chase Sanders and Amelia Orwick
UK President Eli Capilouto said in a campuswide email Thursday that because of the behavior of a “small number of people” before and after the Western Kentucky football game on Sept. 15, alcohol will not be permitted in the non-reserved tailgate space along Cooper Drive between Sports Center Drive and University Drive at this weekend’s game.
Capilouto said more police, and athletics and students affairs officials, will be patrolling the area, and those using or serving alcohol will be cited.
Integrated strategic communication junior Amanda Johnson said she thinks the best part about football games is hanging out with friends and having a good time, and the administration is “stomping on tradition.”
“I think the university is trying to make up for the reputation we got during the national championship by cracking down on rules to make sure we don’t get any more bad publicity.”
When UK beat Louisville in the Final Four game on March 31, thousands of fans burned couches, tree branches and a car. That night, 39 fires had been reported and more than 30 arrests were made.
She said she thinks the move will cause a smaller turnout at football games, “which isn’t what our football program needs right now.”
Media arts and studies junior Brackston Wood said he thinks police should monitor alcohol use at tailgates, but not completely restrict it anywhere.
“If no one is causing any problems or instigating anything, then let them be,” Wood said.
“All (students) have to do is move to another spot. There is a lot of property around Commonwealth Stadium.”
UK spokesman Jay Blanton said safety issues needed to be addressed.
“This will only affect a narrow and specific area located between Cooper and Sports Center Drive, which is a non-licensed tailgating area,” Blanton said. “Action is being taken as a result of the events that occurred at the last home game where one police officer was injured, a number of arrests were made and minors were found to be consuming alcohol.
“We are not targeting all tailgaters. There were a small number of individuals that caused trouble last week. The tailgating that occurs in the lots around the stadium is licensed and will not be affected.”
Blanton said UK, Lexington and state officials met this week to take action for safety reasons.
“We’re going to evaluate next week how the measures we take work, and make a decision from there when we meet with parties that attended the last meeting,” Blanton said.
“The reaction and response to it is challenging because it does affect so many students that weren’t involved, and that is unfortunate,” Bilas said.
He said the ban isn’t directed just toward students, but toward all individuals. The university sent the email out to students, faculty and all ticket holders, Bilas said.
“This isn’t a punishment in the sense that it is a precaution for safety,” Bilas said. “The university needs … to provide alternative solutions to encourage safety, because when you put that many people in a confined area, whether there is alcohol involved or not, it’s a recipe for disaster.
“You can change or take back a ban, but you can’t take back someone getting hurt.”
No DJs or bands can set up in the area, Capilouto added.
At the UK-WKU tailgate, agents with the state Department of Alcohol Beverage Control cited 61 minors for possession of alcohol and five others for unlawful transaction with a minor, assisting minors in purchasing alcohol and using another’s license.
“Alcohol Beverage Control generally conducts investigations at larger state events, where there’s a presence of alcohol and minors,” said Nathan Jones, spokesman for ABC Commissioner Tony Dehner. Jones said was unsure of the department’s plans for this weekend’s game.
UK plays South Carolina at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The President’s Office would not comment on the number of additional officers that will be on hand at this week’s game.
Read Capilouto’s full email below:
Colleagues and Students,
Each year, a rite of fall on our campus is tailgating at football games. Fortunately, the vast majority of people who participate in these activities, including our students, celebrate responsibly and appropriately.
That atmosphere — part of what makes our campus so special — is something we all want to promote.
But two weeks ago, before and after the game with Western Kentucky University, a small number of people acted in a manner that seriously threatened the safety of those around them and of police and other safety officials who are there to protect us all.
Such behavior will not be tolerated.
As a result, the following steps are being taken this weekend during the game against the University of South Carolina:
- There will be an increased police, athletics and student affairs presence in the areas that were negatively impacted two weeks ago — the non-reserved tailgate space along Cooper Drive between Sports Center Drive and University Drive.
- No alcohol will be allowed in that area. Police and state alcohol beverage control officials will be citing people who serve or use alcohol in that area.
- No DJs or bands will be allowed to set up in this area as well.
- Individuals or student organizations that promote drinking or that utilize DJs and bands in this area will be subject to disciplinary actions by our Dean of Students Office that could, ultimately, impact their organizational status.
We want people to attend games. We want all of you to tailgate and enjoy each other’s company in a responsible fashion. But we will not allow actions and behaviors that threaten the safety of our students, our fans or of officials who are present to protect everyone.
Thank you for your help and cooperation in ensuring that everyone at our games is assured of a safe, comfortable and enjoyable experience.
University of Kentucky
Related link: 66 citations issued the day of UK vs. WKU game.
In comparison with another campus, 72 people were arrested and 99 were charged at the University of Notre Dame last weekend, according to WLFI in West Lafayette, Ind. Those numbers rose heavily from the five arrests and nine charges at the previous home game in South Bend, on Sept. 8 against Purdue.
Here’s a video taken from the tailgate on Sept. 15 prior to UK’s game with Western Kentucky: