Dry tailgates dwindle after low student interest, high cost

Rani Gupta and Rani Gupta

Almost three years after the last alcohol-friendly Greek tailgates, low student interest and high costs have caused almost all fraternities to abandon their dry counterparts.

Last weekend only Delta Chi and Beta Theta Pi tailgated in front of the stadium, down from the seven that tailgated before the first home game against Michigan State University and the four that held tailgates before the Oct. 13 game against the University of Minnesota.

James Foster, Interfraternity Council vice president for public relations, said IFC decided to focus on more important issues after unsuccessfully working with Panhellenic Association last year to increase attendance at the dry tailgates.

“Last year there was a whole big effort to get an IFC-wide, Panhel-wide thing, but it didn’t work as well as IFC hoped,” said Foster, a McCormick senior.

Phi Delta Theta decided not to hold tailgates this year because of the low attendance at previous tailgates.

“The stadium’s far away and it’s pretty annoying to get a grill and everything up there,” Phi Delt President Jamie Salvatori said. “Then no one shows up, the game starts and someone’s got to be there to clean up and take everything home.”

Salvatori, a McCormick senior, said fraternities such as Phi Delt are responding to student dissatisfaction with dry tailgates.

“Fraternities respond to students, and students don’t come when there is no alcohol,” he said. “We will show up, but if no one’s going to come, we’re not going to be there.”

After administrative concern about underage drinking, IFC voted in May 1999 to ban alcohol from fraternity tailgates.

Vice President for Student Affairs William Banis could not be reached for comment.

Kappa Sigma held tailgates earlier in the year, including one before the rain-soaked Minnesota game, but not last weekend.

Kappa Sig President James Finley said the fraternity has no tailgates planned for the rest of the season, despite satisfactory attendance at its previous tailgates.

“It was too much time, too much expense,” said Finley, a McCormick senior.

Some fraternity members said the administration’s scrutiny was pushing pre-game celebrations off campus.

Finley said Kappa Sig members gathered at the house to eat burgers before heading to Saturday’s game.

Some said university pressure to keep tailgates alcohol-free could cause problems at events that the university could not monitor.

“(NU administrators) have forced a lot more activity off campus, which is a little negligent on their part,” Salvatori said. “They’re simply worried about their own liability and not the students’ liability.”

The two fraternities that held tailgates at the stadium said they were satisfied with the results.

“We just do it because it’s fun,” said Bassel Korkor, Beta president and a Weinberg junior. “To us it’s a brotherly event where we can get together before a game, have some burgers, serve some burgers, and go into the game and sit together.”

Foster, Delta Chi’s co-rush chairman, said the fraternity has no plans to stop tailgating.

IFC President Phil Ordway, a Delta Chi member, said IFC has no plans to bolster the number of fraternities tailgating at the stadium.

Ordway, an Education senior, also said the lack of Greek tailgates is unrelated to the alcoholic Associated Student Government tailgates, which debuted Oct. 13.

But some worried that a lack of fraternity tailgates could be a hard blow to NU’s already ailing school spirit.

“I believe the thing that made (the fraternity tailgates) so popular in the past was that the whole campus was behind them,” Finley said. “I think it’s a hit on Northwestern’s sense of community. (The tailgates) brought people together that wouldn’t necessarily hang out together.”