Tailgating is part of nearly every American university’s culture; loud music exciting the crowd before the game, burgers cooking on the grill, fans decked out in university colors or apparel and a cold beer in hand. If that beer is in a glass bottle instead of a Solo cup at a University of West Georgia (UWG) tailgate, however, there could be consequences.
“There always has been a policy on how you could have alcohol [in the tailgating area],” explains Dr. Scot Lingrell, Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. “If you are of age, you are supposed to consume alcohol in an opaque cup. That’s probably the hardest policy to enforce.”
Despite the official UWG Tailgating Policies and Procedures clearly stating “all beverages, including alcohol, must be in opaque cups. ‘Cozies’ or insulated coolers holding cans or bottles of beverages are not permitted,” many students continue to bring glass beer and alcohol bottles to The Hill, creating safety concerns for UWG officials. To combat these potential dangers, UWG Athletics is starting to offer solo cups to visitors at The Hill, and at the first home game the idea achieved great success.
“At the first home game, we had 200 Solo cups ready to give away to people tailgating on The Hill,” said Matt Cooke, Assistant Athletic Director. “We ran out in about 15 minutes. So for [the second home game] we have ordered several cases of cups and plan to have at least 500 up there.”
Last year, UWG Athletics introduced The Hill as the official student tailgating area, converting the former Student Zone off of Lovvorn Road into an alumni-tailgating area. According to the official UWG Tailgating Policies and Procedures, The Hill “allows all students to come together as one to enjoy live entertainment, complimentary food and drink, giveaways, and activities designed to enhance the game day experience for UWG students in attendance at UWG football contests.”
The creation of The Hill worked all too well, however, and now students barely want to leave – even after the game has begun. This year, UWG Athletics plans to strongly urge students to enter the stadium half an hour prior to kickoff and also fully enforce the previously instated rule of closing the tailgating area off completely at the time of kickoff.
“We’ve always tried to shut the pre-game program down 30 minutes before the start of the game,” said Cooke. “The idea of the tailgate shutting down at game time is not new, it’s been that way since 2009 back when tailgating was done at the Student Zone off of Lovvorn Road. I know that some students might prefer to be up on The Hill, but there are a lot of safety concerns and we don’t want them outside of University Stadium [after the start of the game].”
Part of the reason students may prefer to stay on The Hill as opposed to entering the stadium is the university’s alcohol policy, which states “consumption of alcohol outside designated areas and/or time periods constitutes a violation of the University of West Georgia’s tailgating policy.” Since The Hill is the sole area designated for student tailgating, a potential compromise that would allow students 21 and over to continue enjoying alcohol and simultaneously boost the University Stadium’s revenue would be to offer alcoholic options at the concessions.
Students can further inform themselves by reading the official Tailgating Policies and Procedures on the UWG website.