President Eli Capilouto’s lifting of the alcohol ban at certain areas off Cooper Drive was the right decision.
The actions of a “small number of people” did not represent the campus as a whole and continuing to punish a large number of students was unnecessary.
It appears now that banning alcohol in the bowl (which is on a dry campus) was a punishment more than it was a trial run.
Whether the alcohol ban was needed for the South Carolina game can be argued, but UK should be applauded for making the correct decision moving forward.
The kind of violence that occurred before the WKU game and was captured on video is not just confined to UK.
Recent instances of violence surrounding sporting events include the Vancouver hockey riot, the brawl from the Australian Open tennis tournament and the beating of a Giants fan at a Los Angeles Dodgers game last season. The 49ers’ and Raiders’ preseason series was ended because of fan violence, and State Street during the Final Four was a national story.
However, these instances are rare and do not represent sports fans as a whole or the experience of attending a game.
Furthermore, banning alcohol, live bands and DJs in a small section of the immense area around Commonwealth Stadium will go only so far to curb the behavior that can accompany drinking among large groups of people.
The events that occurred at the WKU game were overshadowed by a much more disturbing tale of collegiate drinking: the alleged butt-chugging by a student at the University of Tennessee.
Student Government President Stephen Bilas should be commended for conveying the feelings of the students to the administration.
Following the announcement of the ban, Bilas 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 and UK Police Chief Joe Monroe both referenced a “culture change” among tailgaters. UK appearing in the news for bad behavior prior to and following sporting events both in the spring semester and now this fall likely has signaled to campus leaders that a culture change is needed.
The joint statement from Capilouto and Bilas said, “We are taking additional steps to ensure a safe and secure environment so that the tradition of tailgating can continue this weekend and, we hope, going forward for the rest of the season.”
Safety is key, but lifting the ban was the right first step on a campus where tailgating and alcohol have coincided for years and will continue to do so. And a culture change requires input from the people directly affected — all loyal tailgaters, including UK students.