It is often said that sports are the front porch of a university. The University's football program and game day environment are nationally acclaimed and widely touted for the incredible culture of hospitality. A slight stain on this reputation has been the issues surrounding the University's Greek life.
Starting around 2008, tailgating was moved from the fraternity houses to the Parade Ground to increase transparency and safety at the parties. The majority of Greek life was on board, and eventually preferred the outdoor alternative. The largest student tailgates were at the heart of campus, and students could easily tent hop and see all their friends.
This system changed following a highly publicized fight on the Parade Ground, and the death of Max Gruver. Gruver’s death woke everyone up to the fact that Greek life still had issues that needed dealing with. While all of Greek life is not to blame for Gruver's death, I think everyone knew things simply had to change.
The Greek Life Task Force and Implementation Committee rolled out several policies in response to a chaotic fall semester, including moving Greek tailgating into the fraternity houses. Lofton Security Service was in charge of supervising the fraternity tailgates in the houses, but terminated all their contracts with the fraternities by October 2018.
Following this, fraternities were in limbo as they couldn’t tailgate at their houses or the Parade Ground, so the majority moved their tailgates to the open field near West Lakeshore Drive. All of the problems found at the Parade Ground are still there. If the University was concerned about safety or underage drinking they have only made it harder to monitor. I believe the University should restructure the tailgating policy.
If the University has concerns with Greek tailgating they should increase security, communication and supervision, not just push them to the outskirts of campus. Across college football, historic grounds are used for tailgating. The Grove at Ole Miss, The Junction at Mississippi State and Nittanyville at Penn State, are all beloved traditions at their respective schools, and create a more unified sense of community among the tailgaters.
The Parade Ground and Memorial Tower are at the heart of campus, and they are close to empty on game day. The University needs to show they can have a great student tailgate experience, and maintain a safe environment. Having safe tailgates on the Parade Ground could show how Greek life has changed for the better, and the policy implemented by the University, following the death of Gruver, has been effective. The University has simply pushed Greek life out of the public eye, and the game day atmosphere has suffered from it.
Cory Koch is a 20-year-old political science junior from Alexandria, Louisiana.