Embedded within the LSU President F. King Alexander’s Task Force on Greek Life’s recommendation is the decision to move Greek Life gameday tailgates from the LSU Parade Ground to the chapter houses.

The recommendation to move the tailgates is the latest and most successful of the past attempts to change the campus’ tailgating. In fall 2017, new tailgate policies were put in place for the Sept. 30 game against Troy, following incidents of violence before the Sept. 9 game versus Chattanooga and the hazing death of University freshman Maxwell Gruver.

“I think safety and security were a concern after [the Chattanooga game], but the excessive use of alcohol by Greek organizations with the death in a [potential hazing-related incident], made us at LSU look at gameday behaviors in a very different way,” said LSU Dean of Students Mari Fuentes-Martin. “These measures are meant to be proactive from a safety perspective, to give students the space they want, which is the north Parade Ground, but wanting to have some safety parameters as well.”

These regulations included prohibiting fraternities from setting up tailgates prior to 8 a.m. on gamedays and requiring the tailgates to be cleaned up before game time. Tailgating regulations were also proposed in April 2016 town hall meetings with the Dean of Students office but never passed due to negative student feedback.

The 2018 football season will mark the first season Greek Life has not tailgated on the Parade Ground since the University passed its current alcohol policy, PS-78; in Aug. 2005 fraternities moved their tailgates to the Parade Ground following the implementation of PS-78, since the regulations were often too expensive to follow when tailgating in the chapter houses.

Nearly 15 years later, Greek Life tailgates are moving back to their original homes in the chapter houses. The Task Force’s recommendation calls for all fraternity tailgating to move back to the chapter houses and requires full compliance with PS-78, including security and procedural adherence requirements. PS-78 requires fraternity parties at the chapter houses to hire third-party vendors and security. The fall 2018 tailgates will have uniformed police officers to maintain order. The Interfraternity Council leadership has negotiated to lower the number of security officers required at tailgates to minimize the costs.

“Going back to the houses is the safest way to have a tailgate,” Interfraternity Council President Christopher Dupre. “It provides air conditioning. It provides the opportunity to have catered food and things like that. It also discourages wild, rampant, random parties on campus. It creates a safe environment for everyone and helps build a new culture.”

The Task Force’s recommendations collectively emphasized the need for more personal accountability among fraternity chapter members. Dupre and the IFC see the tailgate move as a crucial step toward fraternal accountability.

“At the end of the day, we want health and safety for our students, but we also want to preserve tradition and fun for our community, as well,” Dupre said.

The tailgate move has been in the works for some time. Dupre and LSU Student Government president Jason Badeaux led the charge to move the tailgates back to chapter houses in fall 2017.

“We have been in favor of it for a long time,” Badeaux said. “It adds a new community aspect. Everyone on the row together just broadens the Greek community. From a security and safety standpoint, the access of food, water and air conditioning is huge, as well as having the ability to control who goes in and out of the tailgate.”

Badeaux and Dupre believe that controlling who goes in and out of the tailgate will be the most effective way at reducing violence and ensuring safety.

“If you look back at the historical record of the conflicts on the Parade Ground, a lot of it isn’t between Greeks and Greeks,” Badeaux said. “A lot of it is between Greeks and non-Greek students causing issues.”

Violent incidents marked the fall 2017 Chattanooga gameday. A University student was hospitalized after he sustained injuries attempting to break up a fight. There was also a stabbing of a non-student on the Parade Ground at a Sept. 9 tailgate.

This separation of Greek and non-Greek tailgates opens up the Parade Ground for other student organization tailgates, in addition to attempting to limit violent game day outbreaks. The move may not be popular amongst fraternity members, but IFC and student body leadership are certain this move is crucial in improving the safety of Greek life on campus.

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