UNF Student Affairs plan to improve tailgating following suspension

An alcohol transport prompted the tailgate ban

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UNF Student Affairs plan to improve tailgating following suspension

Joslyn Simmons, Sports Editor

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Days after the suspension of tailgating, the Department of Student Affairs are working on a plan to revamp the system, according to Vice President of Student Affairs Everett Malcolm,.

“We are not anti-tailgating,” Malcolm said.

The ban was prompted after a student had to be transported from Lot 18 last week for too much drinking, Malcolm told First Coast News. He said he does not want to see any more alcohol poisoning happen on campus.

“We did have an alcohol transport a week ago,” Malcolm said. ”If you have one transport, you have the potential for others.”

This was the message sent to UNF Greek Life from the university Feb. 1 banning all pre-game tailgating:

“Effective immediately, all student tailgating associated with athletic events are suspended for the rest of the academic year. The University is in the process of reviewing the Alcohol and Other Drug Policy, which includes tailgating procedures,” the email said. “As part of this review, tailgating will be evaluated with a focus on creating a safer, more positive game day experience. Once the review is complete, tailgating responsibilities will transition from the Athletics Department to the Division of Student Affairs. UNF anticipates tailgating will resume for the 2018-2019 basketball season. As we develop the tailgating plan, we will work with the student leadership in Student Government and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.”

Student tailgating was branded as SWOOP-gating by Athletics four years ago with a focus on the greek community. Athletics provided security, entertainment and portable bathrooms for the tailgates. For selected tailgates, athletics invested $25,000 a year.

In recent years, Malcolm said student attendance has dropped at basketball games with most of the tailgaters remaining outside.

“Over time from four years ago to present, athletics began to notice less and less students coming into the basketball game and more and more students tailgating outside of the tailgating zone,” Malcolm said. “And then all of the sudden, athletics would go out there and see sometimes close to 1,000 students in the parking lot. But those 1,000 students weren’t coming into the basketball game.“  

According to Malcolm, Athletics looked at their budget and didn’t see a return on their investment with only around 200 students coming inside the arena for most basketball games.

“So they came to the administration and said ‘we’ll out the tailgate business,’” Malcolm said.

Student Affairs plans to shift tailgating from solely drinking to an atmosphere that people of all ages can enjoy. The goal for Student Affairs is similar to Athletics — having students coming inside the games.

“Ideally we want to have free food for our students, complimentary soft drinks, some other giveaways that may be are redeemable in the arena,”  Malcolm said.   

Once students are parked in Lot 18, there will be an identification process to determine if the person is of legal age to drink, similar to the enforcement seen at parties with wristbands or a  “X” on the hand.

All tailgating will have to remain in the designated zone within Lot 18 and not the entire lot.

Student Affairs is having a meeting with greek leadership on Feb.13 to discuss what needs to change and be improved for tailgating in the future. Spinnaker will continue to follow and update this story as soon as information becomes available.

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