CMU releases newly adopted tailgating policy
Tailgating at Central Michigan University has been redefined.
The Department of Athletics at CMU released an updated Tailgating Policy Friday, to be put into place immediately.
Director of Athletics, Dave Heeke said the new tailgate operation can only help the university in bringing the students back on game day.
“I look at it as a new day; a new opportunity,” he said. “We want it to be a lovely, festive, great college afternoon, and we just want it to be safe… that has to be first and foremost, the safety of our students above anything else.”
Student Government Association president Justin Gawronski led a student committee in working with CMU athletics and CMU police in order to reevaluate and create a positive experience for Chippewa fans and students.
“We engaged SGA, and Justin has been a phenomenal leader in representing student interest, really sitting down and evaluating its impact and understanding we want tailgating to be an environment that’s available for all individuals and that everyone feels there’s an opportunity to participate in the game day environment,” said Derek van der Merwe, deputy director of athletics and chief operating officer.
Gawronski and van der Merwe met at the beginning of the summer and began discussing changes to the policy that would improve the experience for students, while also providing a safe environment for everyone.
“We thought this was the best solution as far as benefiting students, as well as athletics, to bring more of a fun tailgating culture back while maintaining safety,” Gawronski said. “It seems like it’s a lot more balanced than what it was before.
The new policy states that alcoholic beverages are permitted only at football game tailgates, excluding tailgates for other CMU sporting events without prior written Athletic Department approval.
While there is no limit on alcoholic beverages per person, the policy states that tailgating will not be permitted earlier than four hours before kickoff, nor is it permitted once the game starts.
“There’s no limit on the amount of containers, which is one thing that students were very mad about,” Gawronski said. “There are still no glass bottles for safety reasons and you can’t bring kegs in, but it treats students like adults where I think the past policy was a bit too harsh.”
The previous policy, which was put into effect in 2009, limited each person to having six beers or one pint of alcohol, banned external sound systems and created enter checkpoints for pedestrians and vehicles.
CMU’s new policy lifts the limit and allows for external sound systems, though it’s subject to the control of CMU Police.
The policy will exclude kegs or similar containers for mass alcohol distribution, drinking games that encourage excessive alcohol consumption and glass containers in tailgating areas.
Students, alumni, faculty, staff and visitors will all be held to the same standards, which van der Merwe said was an important aspect of the new policy.
“We don’t want students to feel isolated or separated and treated differently,” he said. “Our students are adults and we want to make sure their conduct and responsibilities reflect that moving forward.”
Tailgating areas themselves have been extended to all general parking lots on campus, including lots 22, 33, 63E, 70, 71, 73, 74 and 75.
Parking lots 62W, 62E, 63W and 64 are reserved for Chippewa Club members, season ticket holders and Chippewa Club VIP members.
Parking passes will be sold for $5 prior to game day and $10 on game day – mirroring the price before the policy was put in place.
“If you look at this policy compared to the previous policy, there are no significant changes, but there are a series of very very important changes,” van der Merwe said. “Every aspect is stressing responsible behavior and defining acceptable behavior. We want responsibility, and that’s left to the individuals.”
van der Merwe credits Gawronski and other students who were involved in re-examining CMU’s tailgating policy to create a top-notch game day experience.
“Those students have been committed to building this the right way, but it’s p to all individuals participating to make this something positive for the future,” van der Merwe said. “I’m excited about this. Coming to a football game and enjoying the experience… everyone should be able to experience that responsibly.”
CMU kicks off its 2012-13 season on Aug 30 when it plays host to Southeast Missouri State at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
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