Editor’s Note: The Michigan Daily was a sponsor of Friday’s pep rally.
It was (pretty much) all fun and games this weekend.
Friday and Saturday, the University sponsored and partnered with other campus organizations to put on a host of events meant to provide alternative activities to traditional game-weekend activities before Saturday night’s game against the University of Notre Dame.
Dean of Students Laura Blake Jones, associate vice president for student affairs, said her office had been planning for this weekend for about five months. The result was a “five-pronged” high-risk behavior prevention strategy.
The Office of Student Life worked with the Division of Public Safety and Security, the University of Michigan Police Department and the Ann Arbor Police Department in executing the strategy, which included offering alcohol-free social events, implementing a positive public-relations campaign and limiting marketing of alcohol near campus.
The strategy also included working with local vendors to focus their sales on cans of beer rather than glass bottles, reducing drink specials and limiting the overall availability of alcohol in accordance with local and state ordinances.
“The work that we did at the previous night game was very successful,” Jones said. “Replicating what we did the first time was really important.”
The University also used Neighborhood Ambassadors through the Beyond the Diag program to reinforce messages about good sportsmanship, spread news about University-sponsored events and advise the community about safe-drinking practices.
“We’re trying to have a diverse, wide array of activities that appeal to different students,” Jones said.
Jones added that when the University was first considering whether to have night games at all, the longer time available in the day for students to drink was a prime consideration. A 2008 report from the University of Colorado, Denver stated that incidents of disorderly conduct, assaults and vandalism increase on college game days at Division I schools, and Jones said that, nationally, incidence rates increase with later start times. However, in the 2011 Notre Dame-Michigan game, the incident rate was on par with an average game that started at noon.
Events kicked off on Friday night with the “Maize Out. Lights On.” pep rally in the Diag. Thousands of students attended the event over the course of the evening to hear performances from campus groups and more than a few pep talks. Guests included University President Mary Sue Coleman, Football head coach Brady Hoke, Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard and even “Glee” star Darren Criss, a Michigan alum.
“There is no place in the world like the University of Michigan — anywhere,” Criss said to roaring applause.
On Saturday morning, more than 1,000 of the most dedicated Wolverines rose before the sun to cheer for their team at ESPN’s College GameDay.
This is the second time in three years that ESPN broadcasted its College GameDay program from Ann Arbor, and the 23rd time Michigan has been featured overall.
The show included appearances from the University’s cheerleading and dance teams, as well as sporadic performances of “The Victors” from the Michigan Marching Band.
Signs reading “Rudy was offsides” and “My girlfriend is real” — in reference to former Notre Dame player Manti Te’o’s infamous fake-girlfriend debacle — were prominently displayed throughout the event. A seemingly lost Ohio State fan, decked out in scarlet and gray, was booed continuously throughout the morning.
Sean Hanrahan, senior vice president of marketing solutions for ESPN, said though College GameDay offers a different experience at each campus, the University offers a great location to host the show.
“For excitement and pageantry and good television, this seems like a really good location,” Hanrahan said.
University students began lining up for front-row seats to the show at about 9 p.m. Friday. By 7 a.m., the broadcasting area set-up by ESPN was full, well before the 9 a.m. live filming of the show.
Engineering junior Corey Greenawalt, who began camping out on the lawn at 10 p.m. Friday with three of his friends, was one of the first students in line. He said he was most excited to see Howard and co-host Lee Corso.
“It was a lot of fun camping out and getting pumped up … we all couldn’t wait,” Greenwalt said.
Although the vast majority of attendees to all of the weekend’s events were clad in maize and blue, a few Fighting Irish turned out to support Notre Dame.
“I love this game, it’s my favorite game of the year,” said Notre Dame senior Anna VanEgmond. “I’m sad they’re taking it off the schedule.”
This year, University Police made 11 arrests for various violations, 10 citations for alcohol in the stadium and 50 ejections from Michigan Stadium before, during and after the game. Emergency medical personnel treated 133 people, with 21 taken to the University Hospital for further care. A record 115,109 people attended the game.
While 8,000 students attended the Central Student Government tailgate two years ago, verified from M-Card swipes upon entry, CSG President Michael Proppe estimated that only 1,500 students attended this year’s event. He ascribed the low attendance to inclement weather during parts of the afternoon and the new general-admission policy.
“With General Admission seating, many students would prefer to hold their spot in line, where there was also free pizza and a DJ, rather than hang out at a tailgate on Elbel,” Proppe wrote in an e-mail interview.
Though she thought the CSG tailgate was well-planned — complete with a mechanical bull and free food — LSA sophomore Rachael Lacey said the low turnout surprised her: Elbel Field had more family tailgaters than students when she was there, she said.