University of Connecticut Athletics recently updated its Tailgating Policy to better ensure fans’ safety, UConn associate director for athletic communications Pat Mckenna said.
“Our overriding concern is the safety of our fans,” McKenna said. “We want our fans to enjoy themselves in a safe and responsible way.”
A tailgating policy was created in 2003 when UConn’s football team began playing at Rentschler Field and a new section of the policy was added prior to the start of this season, McKenna said.
“We want every fan to enjoy their visit to Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field,” the new introduction reads. “To ensure your safety, comfort and enjoyment, and that of your fellow students and football fans, UConn students must adhere to and abide by the UConn Football Student Tailgating Policy, the University of Connecticut Office of Community Standards, The Student Code and all federal, state and local laws.”
The new preamble goes on to remind students of the legal drinking age and that distributing alcohol to minors is a criminal offense.
“All students and fans are responsible for their own safety and legal conduct,” the code says.
A page on athletics’ website outlining tailgating policies has the heading “I’m going to the tailgate” with the word tailgate crossed out and replace with “game.”
“We created this document prior to the 2018 season to more clearly detail our existing policy as it relates specifically to the student tailgating lot,” Mckenna said.
McKenna said state police, aided by reinforcements from the UConn Police Department (UCPD), have been more vigilant in enforcing the polices this year.
“During the first two games of the 2018 season, the police have been more proactive in enforcing these policies to help ensure the safety of everyone,” McKenna said.
The parking lot at Rentschler Field is primarily the responsibility of state police, UCPD Deputy Chief Andrew Fournier said.
“In terms of the operation and what occurs, the parking lot is really their [state police] decision,” Fournier said.
Beginning this season, state police asked to have two UCPD officers aid them in policing the parking lot, Fournier said.
“I think they have to look at the personnel and all the resources and I think they felt they could use some more help in the lot,” Fournier said.
Fournier said the state police have requested the UCPD officers to help in the parking lots for the rest of the season.
“I think it’s been helpful,” Fournier said.
Students have said they noticed the increased presence of police in the parking lots.
“At the tailgate on Saturday I noticed more of a police presence than I’ve ever seen before,” Leila Gallupe, a junior who attended a tailgate this season, said in a Daily Campus editorial published last week. “I noticed the state troopers questioning students, when in the past I’ve only ever seen them intervene if someone was potentially going to get hurt.”
Fournier said the most common legal infractions police see at tailgates include underage drinking, causing a public disturbance and littering.
Fournier said police are more concerned with enforcing existing state laws than adjusting to changes in university policy.
“Police efforts would be based on state laws more than university policy,” Fournier said.
Fournier echoed McKenna’s statement saying the goal of this change is to increase the safety of students at the tailgate.
“The goal is always to provide the highest level of public safety to everyone attending and to make that game day experience as safe as possible,” Fournier said.
Anna Zarra Aldrich is the associate news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She tweets @ZarraAnna.