By Elaine Ezekiel
The college updated its athletic policy effective this Fall to allow for pre-and post- game tailgating in the W. Michigan Ave. parking lot near the renovated complex.
According to the policy, of-age students and other fans will be allowed to consume food and alcoholic beverages in the lot two hours before, and one hour after Hornet home games.
The rule revamp, says Athletic Director Kristen Smith, will not drastically alter the Hornet fandom.
“Really nothing has changed,” she said. “We just changed the venue.”
Prior to what Smith calls “putting common practice down on paper,” K had no official tailgating policy. Tailgating occurred, she says, but it was done around the field instead of in the parking lot.
Because the cars were often parked on the actual field within the athletic complex, drinking was not allowed.
“However,” said Smith, “it was done; people didn’t follow the rules.”
Smith said she asked other NCAA schools about their official and unwritten tailgating policies.
“Based on their feedback,” she said, “we formulated policies and procedures with the President’s staff to find best practice.”
Smith points out that K allows those over 21 years old to drink at other on-campus celebrations and events.
“I don’t see how we could have a ‘no alcohol policy’ if we don’t have a ‘no alcohol policy’ across campus,” she said.
K Football teammates Jake Larioza K’14 and Ryan Gregory K’14 say they are more excited about the new rule that waives admittance fees for sporting events than about the tailgating. However, they anticipate the new policy might bolster game attendance.
“The more friends, the better,” Gregory said.
Megan Burns K’13 says she will not be participating in the tailgate, despite the updated policy.
“I think tailgating is more for parents,” she said of Kalamazoo College sporting events.
Security was unavailable for comment on this story, but according to the new policy, security officers may ask tailgaters for legal identification and proof of age as part of monitoring the parking lot area. If underage drinkers are identified, according to the rule, they will be removed from the lot and may be charged with a Minor in Possession.
Other stipulations include banning alcohol consumption within the stadium or during halftime, and prohibition of charcoal grills, kegs, fire pits, RVs, and glass containers in the tailgating area.
At the last football home game, the Hornets beat the Manchester Spartans 18–16 in quadruple overtime in front of nearly 3,000 fans.
Kristen Smith said the 133-space tailgating parking lot was packed to capacity, hosting the first officially sanctioned Kalamazoo College tailgate attended mostly by athlete’s parents and alumni.
Her advice to K students is to join in on the tailgating.
“Come out to the games,” she said, “It was a fun, exciting atmosphere and we invite anybody and everybody to come enjoy it with us.”