By KATHLEEN MEGAN, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hartford Courant
8:54 PM EST, November 21, 2011
Comparisons among colleges' tailgating policies are difficult, but Yale's rules appear more lenient than the rules of at least five other New England colleges.
Yale permits beer kegs and rental trucks full of party supplies into tailgating areas, while other colleges, including Harvard University and the University of Connecticut, do not.
But Yale does take some steps that some colleges do not: It requires student organizations to get a tailgating permit ahead of time and students to wear wristbands indicating whether they are of legal age to drink.
Tailgating regulations have come under scrutiny this week following a fatal accident Saturday before the Harvard-Yale game in New Haven, when a U-Haul truck laden with beer kegs accelerated suddenly, hitting and killing Nancy Barry, 30, of Salem, Mass., and injuring two other women.
Brendan J. Ross, 21, a Yale student who was driving the truck, passed a field sobriety test and has not been charged in the case, but questions are being raised about Yale's tailgating policies.
The university announced Saturday that it would conduct a review of its tailgating rules, including the admission of trucks to tailgating areas.
The rules and regulations on tailgating have long been a source of friction on campuses; at Yale they have been discussed extensively and regularly refined.
Mary Mycka, executive director of the Iowa-based Stadium Managers Association, said the organization provides recommendations on "best practices" on many aspects of stadium operation, but not on tailgating.
"We've learned over the years that it really is more dependent on local codes, what police will allow or not," Mycka said. "And it seems like it has more to do with the history" at a particular college or university.
Colleges and universities vary widely in how much supervision they provide over tailgating, she said, but it's clear that changing a tradition can be difficult.
"A lot of times it takes something like this for people to really look at" the rules, Mycka said.
At Yale, college administrators considered banning trucks and U-Haul vans, according to an October 2007 Yale Daily News story, but a follow-up story several weeks later said the proposal was scrapped because of students' arguments that they would otherwise be unable to transport food, grills and coolers to the game. Thomas Conroy, Yale spokesman, said he couldn't vouch for the accuracy of the student newspaper accounts and wasn't certain of the "deliberative process" that led to the rules.
In 2005, alumni protested plans to end the tailgate partying at the end of halftime. This year the rules said that student tailgates had to close by the end of the second quarter and that all fans would be expected to enter the Yale Bowl by the start of the third quarter.
Asked whether hard liquor is permitted at Yale games, Conroy said in an email that there are "no prohibitions on the kinds of alcohol that may be consumed by those of legal age."
At Harvard, spokesman Jeff Neal said that at least since 2008, box trucks, hard liquor and kegs have not been permitted at tailgates.
Harvard rules further elaborate that commercial vehicles — including rental trucks and vans, and RVs — are not permitted and that "items that promote the rapid consumption of alcohol are not permitted."
Harvard banned rental trucks apparently because of the damage the trucks did to fields, according to an October 2004 story in the Harvard Crimson. That story said that Harvard tightened restrictions on alcohol at the Harvard-Yale game after a student almost died of alcohol poisoning in November 2002.
At Rentschler Field in East Hartford, where the University of Connecticut plays its football games, kegs and bulk quantities of alcohol are not permitted. Jack Freeman, director of stadium operations, said that rental trucks seldom show up at the stadium but that they would be considered on "a case by case" basis. He said that any trucks are inspected; if they contain kegs or exorbitant amounts of alcohol, they are turned away or not allowed to dispense the alcohol.
"You are not here to provide a package store," he said.
Trucks or recreational vehicles that are admitted are assigned to special areas where the ground is not soft. "They won't sink," he said.
At Trinity College, kegs and large vehicles such as RVs, buses and rental trucks are prohibited. Michael Renwick, Trinity's athletic director, a visual search is made of each car that enters tailgating areas to ensure there is no excessive alcohol. He said students are not allowed to bring in vehicles, mainly because space is limited.
Kegs are also prohibited at Central Connecticut State University and at Sacred Heart University.
Asked about rental trucks, Janice Palmer, spokeswoman at CCSU, said in an email: "We haven't had an issue with rental trucks bringing kegs to the tailgate lot because kegs aren't allowed. If a truck were to arrive at the lot, police would closely monitor the truck."
Sacred Heart's website says that only passenger vehicles are allowed in tailgating areas; large trucks and campers are not.
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