The life and death of student tailgating

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UK President Eli Capilouto’s 2012 prohibition of alcohol in the tailgating areas along Cooper Drive caused quite a stir on campus.

But this year, no one seems to be shaken or stirred about the issue.

Are the alcohol-soaked tailgates, like last year’s infamous episode at the UK versus Western Kentucky University game that motivated Capilouto’s ban, a thing of the past? If so, should they stay there?

Let’s start by considering the tailgating scene during the game versus Miami University (Ohio) last Saturday. The crowd was far smaller and tamer than those that have tailgated the past few years. It was certainly a social atmosphere, and it was not completely dry. But comparatively, the view looked a lot different than seasons in recent history.

To be fair, we know several factors contributed to the quiet atmosphere. First off, it can be difficult to rouse college students for games with a noon kickoff. A tailgate typically starts a few hours before the game starts, and for college students that’s a few hours of lost sleep.

The UK football team was also matching up against a sub-par team. The fandom at that game will not even be on the same playing field as the horde that will be at Saturday’s game against the University of Louisville.

Even so, the biggest environment change factor is the university’s new tailgating policy. Student organizations are now required to reserve tailgating space through the Student Center Director’s Office no later than noon on the Wednesday before a game. Student Government is tasked with assigning the 14 available spots. It was said before the first game that UK Police will monitor alcohol distribution.

Last Saturday, 11 of the 14 spots were reserved by organizations, said UK spokeswoman Gail Hairston. Thirteen spots have been reserved for this Saturday. The fact that space is being left empty for what is arguably UK’s biggest game of the year is indicative of how little hype now surrounds UK tailgating, which used to bring such joy to so many Cat fans in the fall.

It is understandable why organizations would be skeptical of reserving space through the university. Throughout the week, students put forth countless hours of hard work toward their academics and the organizations stuents are involved in. By the time the weekend comes, students are ready to relax. Attending football games has always seemed like a great way to do so. But with the university placing rules and restrictions on how students can go about tailgating, it takes away a good deal of the fun, and makes the event feel more like we’re being babysat.

We understand that university officials feel obligated to keep its students safe, but urge them to remember how they felt at age 18. We are all capable of taking care of ourselves. Perhaps starting a dialogue with students about how to stay safe during tailgates is a better option.

That being said, we have some words of wisdom for frustrated students. While the Kernel advise university officials to consider its policy, suggest students be patient. UK is in the midst of a major transformation. Not only is the football program undergoing major changes, but UK’s alcohol policy is being reevaluated as well.

The Kernel hopes that as the football team improves and alcohol regulations are reconsidered, UK tailgating will become something that people truly look forward to again. After the chaos that ensued last season, embrace the silence and prepare for a brighter future.