The University of Michigan Central Student Government hosted its third sober tailgate Saturday on Elbel Field in an attempt to prevent alcohol-related incidents during late-starting football games.
The event was coordinated by LSA sophomore Grant Rivas, CSG’s chief programming officer, who said student safety is the first consideration with a 3:30 p.m. kick off time like the Michigan vs. Colorado game.
“We as a university see an (uptick) on alcohol-related incidents and hospital visits,” Rivas said. “So with that game time, we definitely wanted to make an effort to make sure students are as safe as possible and just have a really fun event for all students.”
Rivas estimated that CSG handed out 350 pizzas and 1,600 water bottles Saturday, serving 1,500 students in total. At the 2013 tailgate, the last time it took place, more than 8,000 students were reported to have attended. Rivas said the difference in numbers can be attributed to the length of the tailgate and the time of the game. During the 2011 tailgate, the event lasted through most of the game, whereas Saturday’s was operating only between noon and kick-off.
Rivas said in the past, administrations have noted a significant decrease in the number of hospital visits because of the tailgate. During Saturday’s game, there was one arrest, one citation and four ejections due to alcohol in the stadium. 5 people were taken to the UM emergency department and medical personnel treated 83 people after the game as well.
Rivas said CSG has taken other measures to ensure student safety on gameday this year, including hydrations stations in front of Greek life houses that are partnered with CSG. Last year, it started funding University Dining to open a few hours earlier so students can eat before tailgating.
“This is kind of another step in that pattern we’ve taken to try to make game day a safer event for students, so we don’t see a lot of hospital visits,” Rivas said.
Students from the Center for Campus Involvement were also a part of the event, handing out pizza and water bottles. One of the employees, LSA sophomore Ingrid Lindquist, said the tailgate helps bring people together before the game.
“I think it keeps people more safe before a game because a lot of drinking sometimes goes on, and it helps people remember to eat and drink water and just enjoy it for celebrating U of M for the team and the school, rather than a bad way,” Lindquist said.
Fellow CCI employee Elizabeth Kruse, an LSA sophomore, agreed with Lindquist.
“I think having a tailgate like this is important for students who don’t want to go out and party, but they can still do something fun before the game,” Kruse said.
Several attendees said they came to tailgate mostly for the free food.
Engineering senior Zach Weglarz said the tailgate was important for underage students, which LSA freshman Samantha Adsit and Rackham graduate Aaron Barber echoed.
“I think it’s good to have one of these so you can remember it and have fun,” Adsit said.
“I definitely think (the sober tailgate) is important,” Barber said. “I understand people who enjoy that just, like, in their life, but I kind of don’t want to do that before a football game. You kind of want to enjoy the game. You spend money on the tickets, you want to support a really good team and you kind of want to enjoy the game. And you can be as goofy and have as much fun if you don’t drink.”
The tailgate also included giveaways and free suite tickets for a future Michigan football game.