Obamacare, pizza and a “creepy” Uncle Sam are not typical things expected at a tailgate.
For the University of Miami-Virginia Tech game tailgate, though, that is exactly what could be found in the stadium parking lot.
On Saturday, the University of Miami College Republicans co-sponsored a tailgate with Generation Opportunity (GO), an organization with an “Opt-Out” campaign meant to educate young voters on why they should opt-out of Obamacare.
The UM College Republicans originally reached out to GO in the summer, and through conversations and brainstorming, the idea of a tailgate was suggested by GO. The organization provided promotional materials, flyers, brochures, as well as the tents, pizza and an Uncle Sam costume to spread its message to college students.
“I definitely think it was an empowerment for a lot of our members, because they were able to see when we work hard and put our minds to something that we can lift off,” said Mathew De La Fe, chair of UM College Republicans. “We were able to tell them, ‘well we’re doing a thing with opt-out of Obamacare’ and right there we’d give them information about it, hand out brochures and slips and start the conversation at the university of opting out of Obamacare.”
According to De La Fe, the UM College Republicans brought more than 120 students from campus to Sun Life Stadium in buses, including about 70 of their members. Other students then joined for upwards of 100 participants.
Online news sources, like Buzzfeed, Yahoo! and The Huffington Post picked up the story and drew national attention to the tailgate. De La Fe claims some things that were written were misguided. He wants to make clear that the university did not in any way sponsor the event.
Despite claims that the event was purely filled with drunken students, De La Fe says the event was filled with UM Republicans members who were all informed about Obamacare, as well as GO members focused on educating.
“Definitely Generation Opportunity people were there, who that was their sole objective,” freshman Quinn Kasal said. “They did a really good job of handing out flyers, of giving sunglasses, their own promotional materials, kind of educating the student body at a tailgate”
De La Fe does note that there was alcohol, but says it was not supplied by the UM College Republicans or GO. He believes it was brought by students who were over 21 from different sections of the stadium.
Aside from all of the festivities, De La Fe says he believes the message that the organizations were trying to spread was still received.
“I believe whether the end message was given or not, the conversation was definitely started, the conversation of Obamacare and opting out in general,” he said.
Educating students about Obamacare was always the main focus of the event, Kasal said.
“We weren’t just some tailgate, we were a tailgate that was politically driven and funded by Generation Opportunity to help spread a message that we all believe in,” he said.