The glory days of tailgating before a Michigan football game seem to be in danger. Many students remember exiting South Quad as freshmen and seeing an army of students proudly wearing their maize football shirts. The atmosphere was reminiscent of dreams of what college would be like. There were parties so full people poured out the front door and onto the lawns. And on the 900 block of State Street, rival fraternities who dislike each other on every other day found common ground — the State Street block party.

It’s a simple fact that the pregame parties on State Street on Football Saturdays are fundamental in the student culture. Every Football Saturday, students across campus wake up at 8:00 a.m. or earlier to support their school and their team. Supporters of opposing teams have to work their way through the flood of maize and blue, listen to music blasting and understand that they are in Wolverine Country.

But the way that police have recently been handling State Street pregame parties has hushed this culture.

The authorities need to understand that pregame parties aren’t about getting drunk, acting inappropriately or engaging in other potentially dangerous behaviors. It’s about enjoying football. It’s about school pride. It’s about knowing that it’s great to be a Michigan Wolverine.

Having spent years in the fraternity system, we understand how to run a party. The Interfraternity Council has an understanding with the Ann Arbor police that fraternity parties will be safe and regulated. This extends to State Street parties. Our house has always complied with police officers. We put up fences to ensure that our parties are contained and don’t spill onto the sidewalks or streets. We try to create a safe environment in which to tailgate so that we can have as much fun as possible with little worry. There’s no reason this should be unsatisfactory, because safety is ultimately the biggest concern.

Since the Ann Arbor police shut us down, our house alone has received over $1,000 in fines and bond payments. The city attorney has referred to us as a “nuisance.” In a letter sent to us, the city cited “rooftop activities and crowds spilling onto the public sidewalk” as reasons for concern. As we have made clear, this behavior doesn’t take place. The city’s sudden concern is strange. The city suddenly feels it is necessary to threaten our neighbors and us with lawsuits, and it’s unclear why. Beneath all the bureaucratic political blather from city officials, the answers are hard to find.

We will concede that in years past, there have been problems. We are sure that there will be concerns in the future as well. In order to deal with those issues, the houses on the 900 block of State Street have and will continue to be compliant and respectful of the Ann Arbor police. Ultimately, everyone wants the same thing: safety, and to be able to proudly cheer on the Michigan football team.

We don’t think that the intentions of Kristen Larcom, the Ann Arbor senior assistant city attorney, are to ruin tailgating. But on the 900 block of State Street, that is effectively what has happened. We like being able to wake up with our neighbors at 6:30 a.m. to go outside and set up our fences while anticipating the day to come. At the last pregame party, we looked out from our porch at 9:45 a.m. to see empty lawns and a quiet State Street. We want to be able to come back 40 years from now and see State Street carry on the traditions that we are fighting to continue now. Saturday is about facilitating a culture that transcends previously isolated social networks, and our tailgates are something fundamental to the Saturday football experience in Ann Arbor.

Saturdays are about Michigan pride. Have some.

James Altman and Aaron Buckingham are LSA seniors.

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