Wildside has canceled Fitzerland, its student-run tailgate area, for Saturday’s home football game against Ball State University.
Northwestern Athletics will still host a tailgate event before the game Saturday, as part of its Wildcat Alley tailgate series. Department spokesman Paul Kennedy said in an email to The Daily on Friday afternoon he did not have information about the status of Fitzerland.
After almost two years of mounting restrictions, Wildside, a student group that works to promote student attendance at athletics events, announced Friday it would no longer host the official student tailgate.
“It was mainly called off because we could not garner enough student support,” said SESP junior Evan Frost, co-president of Wildside. “The new guidelines, while somewhat reasonable, created too much of an obstacle for student groups to come up in big numbers … I don’t think we’re blaming anyone, we just didn’t have enough time.”
Dean of Students Todd Adams met with Wildside earlier Friday and agreed with the decision. He said in an email to The Daily that moving forward, they will discuss more gameday opportunities with students as the season progresses.
Past Fitzerland tailgates brought together different student groups to host booths at the event. This year, Wildside could not wrangle enough student groups by the end of Thursday night, Frost said. Lacking cooperation from large groups, particularly the Interfraternity Council, Wildside decided to cancel the event.
“There was not enough time for Wildside to properly promote the event to students, for us to find members to staff and monitor the event and do all the things you need to do to make it a successful tailgate,” said Weinberg junior Eric Lombardo, Wildside’s vice president of outreach. “We didn’t feel there was any option other than to not host it.”
After NU’s win against Duke last week, Wildside received positive support from other students for a student tailgate to return, Frost said. However, he said there had been no communication about the event among Wildside, NU Athletics and administrators until Wildside received an email from the athletic department on Wednesday proposing new regulations.
The new rules suggested mainly deviated from the previous season by capping alcohol brought in to 12 cans per person, according to the email, which was obtained by The Daily. Frost said this regulation concerned Wildside because beer is not always sold in packs of 12. The student group also wanted to clarify ambiguity over the tailgate monitors. These monitors, implemented last year, had to attend mandatory training to supervise groups renting grills at Fitzerland. Although the email did not specify how they would be chosen, Wildside was hoping to supply monitors themselves this season, instead of requiring all groups to bring their own tailgate monitor.
However, Thursday morning, NU Athletics sent an email to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life officially announcing Wildside would host Fitzerland on Saturday. The email, which was obtained by The Daily, also announced the 12 cans per person rule. Although IFC, the Panhellenic Association and the Multicultural Greek Council received this announcement, Wildside was not informed, Frost said.
“We were very out of the loop,” Frost said. “We had our names put on all these things we didn’t necessarily agree to.”
The University began to add restrictions to Fitzerland in 2013 after a prospective student was hospitalized for intoxication after tailgating there. Since then, the tailgate required a WildCard for all guests and a photo ID for those bringing alcohol, as well as a tailgate monitor for groups renting grills. These restrictions had already hampered turnout, Lombardo said.
“It’s been well over a year since Fitzerland was a very well-attended event due to policy restrictions last year,” Lombardo said.
The email from NU Athletics also said “off-campus tailgates are strongly discouraged and will be monitored by Student Affairs.“ However, Frost said he predicts the cancellation of Fitzerland will result in more off-campus parties and pre-gaming in dorms.
Fraternity chapters will still be allowed to host tailgates off-campus, IFC president Mark Nelson said Friday in a statement to The Daily. However, he warned of the crackdown of off-campus events, usually due to noise level citations.
Lombardo said Wildside would be happy to bring Fitzerland back with improvements in the future.
“If Fitzerland isn’t working, we’re going to have to adapt,” Frost said.
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