October 31, 2005 —
Recent developments have prompted University administrators to ban drinking games at on-campus tailgating before the football games.
The goal is to reduce binge drinking, as well as to reduce the number of severely intoxicated students attending the football game, according to Robert L. Maurovich, vice president for Student Services & Enrollment Management.
"Drinking games are designed to get students intoxicated in a short period of time," Maurovich explained.
Under the new guidelines, beer pong is prohibited, as well as the use of beer bongs. While drinking will not be banned, the University will also move to prohibit any new games that pop up in the future.
Maurovich said that the administration and others are concerned about the behavior of intoxicated students entering the football game. While administrators understand that tailgating is an important part of the collegiate football tradition, and while most students are responsible drinkers, the actions of a few unruly fans have necessitated the changes.
"Fan behavior, with all due respect, has gotten out of hand," Maurovich said.
University Police Department Sergeant Bethany K. Rusch has witnessed such behavior, including one student who was drinking, vomited, then immediately proceeded to resume drinking.
"The activity is getting ridiculous when you have people assaulting other people and breaking things," she said.
Both University Police and administrators will be in charge of enforcing the new restrictions, and any violators of the new rules will be disciplined through the Student Code of Conduct. While Maurovich adds that no single incident has caused added concern this year, he admits the impetus for change has been gathering steam since the last football season.
"This (change) has been, probably, almost two years in the making," Maurovich said.
Maurovich acknowledged that some students may move the drinking games to an off-campus location, yet he believes that the actions of a few students should not fundamentally alter the basic regulations for everyone.
President Eric R. Gilbertson has also come out in favor of the new regulations.
"When our football team plays so hard and with such class on the field, it's a shame to have some drunken cowards taunting opponents and their fans from the safety of the stands," Gilbertson said.
Other state universities have banned drinking games on campus in recent years to curb subsequent violence and unrest. Budweiser recently withdrew its support from "BudPong," due to the abuse of alcohol by college students. No uniform policy can be applied to all colleges, Maurovich said, since regulations are contingent on campus environments.
However, some students view the new regulations as unnecessary, and a breach of football and college traditions, many of which revolve around drinking.
"The new regulations do very little to reduce drinking at the tailgates," said Student Association Speaker of the House Andy Suszek. He added that students will rather find new venues to drink at, and that some students may stop attending football games as a result.
Maurovich said that the administration worked with SA, other student organizations, and the University Police to develop a comprehensive plan regarding tailgating. Situations such as this come to the administration's attention rather than the other way around, he said.
"While tailgating may have brought us all together, the meeting gave us the opportunity to talk about issues in a larger context," Maurovich said.
Rusch saw the issue in a larger context as well.
"What we're trying to do is send a message for people to drink responsibly, because we care about them and what happens to them," she said.
Suszek contends that drinking games add to the environment before the football game actually begins, and that restricting them eliminates a major part of college life.
"I think that the drinking games actually add to the atmosphere, so tailgating is more than just people standing around drinking," Suszek said.
Maurovich said that most people go to football games to enjoy football itself, rather than simply going to drink.
"The focus should not be tailgating," he said. "Most people want to go to a football game and enjoy it without having to deal with intoxicated students."