Tailgate changes to have dangerous consequences

Fraternity brothers sent frantic messages in group chats, student organizations scurried to better understand what was happening and friends shared screenshots which got increasingly blurry as they were passed like a game of telephone.

No more tailgates.

The Canes are undefeated, and UM students are celebrating the best season we’ve had in years. The better the Canes have been performing, the more intensely students seem to be drinking at tailgates, and the administration is taking a stand against it by no longer reserving parking sections for student organization tailgates.

While we appreciate that the administration is trying to put its foot down for student safety, the negative consequences of this decision may outweigh any benefits.

First of all, students won’t stop tailgating. They may just end up pre-gaming near campus and drinking even more excessively in a shorter period to “stay drunk” for the game, or not even make it to the game at all. They also won’t tailgate in the designated Student Fan Zone where they can’t drink alcohol.

Most likely, student tailgates will just move in smaller groups to other sections. This means that student will disperse throughout the stadium instead of congregating in one place where potentially dangerous activity could be monitored comprehensively and efficiently. In the student organization sections, there were plenty of people to get help if someone needed it and easy access to emergency services, instead of a potential cross-stadium trek.

Additionally, if a student wants to go from one tailgate to another, they may be branching off on their own, again walking across huge stadium lots and not having anyone looking out for them.

The worst consequence, however, is if student organizations can’t provide buses and mass transportation, but still want to tailgate, many more students may be driving to the stadium in personal vehicles. People cannot leave their cars parked at the stadium if they drink and end up unable to drive. The increased drinking and driving is a terrifying possibility that cannot be overlooked.

“We’re not in the business of telling students you can’t have fun, or that you can’t tailgate,” Dean of Students Ryan Holmes said. “That’s not what we’re doing. What we are saying is that we’re not going to outline a specific space for you to condone those behaviors that we’ve seen for the past few weeks.”

This statement represents the whole problem with the move. The administration knows these behaviors will continue outside the designated student organization tailgates. The decision is not meant to combat the specific behaviors that are endangering students, but instead to distance the university from negative attention by saying it won’t be the one providing a specific space.

To be clear, The Miami Hurricane does not endorse these behaviors. A culture in which students feel the need to be blackout drunk in order to appreciate a winning football team is definitely not a healthy one, or something we want for our school. But that’s a subject for another editorial.

Simply, this decision is not the right one to keep students safe. There are many other steps that can be taken to accomplish that goal. Administration should spreading awareness about UM’s medical amnesty policy. They could create a system for allowing people to leave cars overnight if they are not sober to drive. Student organizations who hold tailgates could be required to provide food and water. Water stations could be set up throughout the area not just at the Student Fan Zone. The university could work with police to prioritize safety instead of issuing excessive minors in possession. These all seem like better solutions.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.