By CHASE GORSKI
The future of tailgating at Salisbury University is under question after the university cancelled the most recent event, which was scheduled to take place before the men’s lacrosse matchup Saturday against No. 6 Gettysburg, due to various problems with game attendance and clean-up.
The 2016-2017 school year is the first year that the university has hosted tailgates after three separate groups advocated for these events over the past few years, including SGA, alumni as well as the Salisbury University Athletics Department. After accepting a proposal, a tailgating committee was formed with these groups, along with Student Affairs and other parties to assess how to best approach tailgating events.
The committee planned a total of eight tailgates: two for football, two for field hockey, two for men’s lacrosse and two for women’s lacrosse. Depending on the outcome of these events, the members involved will decide at the end of the year if Salisbury will continue tailgating.
Throughout the first semester, the committee, headed by Vice President of Student Affairs Dane Foust, had meetings following each event in order to analyze each tailgate and to discuss any improvements.
According to Foust, the fall semester had positive aspects which they were able to discuss, including great student presence at both football tailgates. However, one of the problems they needed to solve was the lack of students at field hockey tailgates.
Foust explained that at the end of the year the committee will have to weigh their options with field hockey, discussing whether or not it is worth it to host tailgating before field hockey games and, if so, how they can draw a greater crowd of students.
The biggest problem the committee has faced, which caused the cancellation of Saturday’s tailgate, came after the tailgate event on Feb. 18, before the men’s lacrosse matchup against Montclair St. Foust described the tailgate as closer in relation to a “day-drink” event than a tailgate, due to many students bringing only alcohol to the event.
The main problems came after the tailgate had ended—specifically regarding the clean-up efforts. Foust said that he as well as other members of Student Affairs were forced to walk around and help clean after many tailgaters simply left after the event was over.
“Do I think that my dean of students should be out there picking up beer cans after an event? I don’t think we should be doing that,” Foust said. “I think the students should step up.”
This concern was addressed at the beginning of the semester on the Salisbury University website under “Tailgating Policy and Procedures,” which clearly states that “Salisbury University provides trash receptacles. Guests are expected to clean-up after their tailgate and no trash should be left behind.”
Trash was not the only problem, though, as Foust stated that a very small number of the “hundreds” of tailgaters actually attended the lacrosse game.
“Frankly, we’re not going to put on a tailgate and then have people not go to the games,” Foust said. “And to be honest, that happened last Saturday.”
Instead, it was reported that the majority of tailgaters went from the event directly to an off-campus party at Cedar Crossing, which required a response from local police. This incident being directly connected with a Salisbury tailgate posed a large risk for the committee as well as the university.
In light of the problems faced, the committee decided that, in order to properly adjust how tailgates will be planned, that Saturday’s tailgate needed to be cancelled.
Foust explained that the key problems they will be looking to overcome include clean-up, game attendance and also promoting safe drinking at these tailgates. The committee also aims to use these tailgates to bring students together by promoting school pride, and they plan to use meetings throughout the semester as well as after the school year has concluded in order to determine whether tailgating is worth it, and how they can improve it.
The university hosted a meeting Tuesday night in the Nanticoke room of the GUC in order to get the student’s perspective on concerns as well as ideas to improve tailgates on campus. While the committee has already scheduled two other tailgates for March 5 and April 15, it is clear that if there is no solution to the evident problems that have been faced, Salisbury’s tailgating experiment will be over as quickly as it began.