First student-led tailgate since 2008 shows promise

Morgan Gisholt Minard, News Layout Editor

The first student-led effort since 2008 to create an enhanced tailgate atmosphere at the University found success on Nov. 7. Through a series of partnerships and proposals, over 1,000 students, faculty, and staff attended the “Back Up the Bison” tailgate in the practice football field from 4-6:20 p.m. next to the Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium.

The event was planned by the Department of Athletics and Recreation, the Interfraternity Council, the Panhellenic Council, and the Undergraduate Executive Internship Program. Attendees supported the football team in the Patriot League semifinals. While the Bison did not secure a spot in the Patriot League Championship game, a new tailgating culture may secure a spot as a major presence on campus in the future.

This is a hope held by Jared Lowenthal ’15, who was responsible for the majority of the planning and execution of the event. Lowenthal identified a lack of student attendance at sporting events on campus and believed that creating this tailgate event would serve to increase attendance at this crucial football game. It was also important for the free event to include all members of the student body, regardless of age or affiliation with a Greek organization.

“It was actually pretty easy to garner student support for the event. I think a lot of students were looking for an event of this nature and were quite excited when they found out about it,” Lowenthal said.

Through his Executive Internship and work in the Department of Athletics and Recreation, Lowenthal worked with members of the Department of Athletics and Recreation and Recreation Services, as well as with several University administrators and Public Safety to ensure that this event would be regulated and successful.

Funding for the event came from a variety of organizations, including the Department of Athletics and Recreation, Recreation Services, and Bucknell Student Government (BSG), with sponsorships from Coca-Cola and Yuengling. Students enjoyed food from the Flying Bison and beverages from the two companies that sponsored the event. The Thought Police and Manifest Destiny’s Child performed as part of the tailgate entertainment, and students played games such as cornhole while they waited for kickoff.

As the event included students of all ages, alcohol was provided for attendees over the age of 21. Lowenthal and other members of the tailgate planning team devised a detailed plan regarding the presence and consumption of alcohol to ensure that the event would go smoothly, and will hopefully pave the way for a future tailgating culture.

“From the feedback I received from the administration and Public Safety it seems that the event went on without incident, which is quite incredible considering the amount of people that attended,” Lowenthal said.

The parameters of the plan included Public Safety and administrative presence at the event, valid proof of drinking age (by showing both BUID and a valid driver’s license), a three-drink limit, a built-in waiting time in line to ensure that students did not consume alcohol too rapidly, and a separate tent for beer and food.

The event had to fall within guidelines established last year regarding student tailgate procedure by collaboration among Student Affairs, Public Safety, and the Department of Athletics and Recreation, all of which is coordinated through the Campus Activities and Programs (CAP) Center.

“The event was very well-managed. The students working the event were incredibly organized and very energetic … I appreciate the great example the Back Up the Bison tailgate set for having a responsible event where alcohol was also present,” Dean of Students Susan Lantz said.

Philanthropic donations of $500 were donated by the Department of Athletics and Recreation to the three organizations with the highest attendance, which were Greek organizations Kappa Kappa Gamma, Phi Delta Gamma, and Sigma Phi Epsilon.

“[The tailgate was] a great opportunity for students to be engaged in activity on campus that will be monitored and supported by campus organizations [and] a step in the right direction for the future of the Bucknell social scene because it will provide an opportunity for individuals over the legal age to participate in regulated and responsible drinking,” Lowenthal said.

The event revealed some room for future improvement.

“I thought the event had a lot of potential, but could be improved by having more food, possibly in a buffet-style setup. Also, if you were under 21 it felt very disconnected from the rest of the students who were inside of the tent with the drinks,” Katie Chambers ’17 said.

“We’re hoping to hold similar events in the spring and will work with students and the administration to garner feedback on the event and make changes based on their suggestions. I really hope that this event was the first step in creating a tailgating culture at Bucknell. In the future I hope that any student will be able to host a tailgate if they follow the proper parameters,” Lowenthal said.

The first tailgate for a winter sporting event will be held on Nov. 14 on Sojka Pavilion Lawn at 5:45 p.m. to rally student support for the men’s basketball home opener against Marist College. There will be free food and live entertainment until tipoff at 7 p.m.

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