Few students tailgate at Towson U. under stricter rules

University gives out 25 parking permits after required workshop to use student lot

  • Towson University students, from left, Adam Vargas, Ben Price, Joel Wiener, Karen Cohen, Sara Millman and Rachel Sevel tailgate before Saturday night's football game against the Maine Black Bears. Fewer students tailgated before the game after the university instituted new rules, including a limit on alcohol, a ban on pickup trucks and a requirement to attend a 30-minute workshop in order to get a tailgating permit.
Towson University students, from left, Adam Vargas, Ben Price,… (Pamela Wood )
September 27, 2014|By Pamela Wood | The Baltimore Sun

Last weekend, Towson students jammed into a parking lot outside Johnny Unitas Stadium, drinking and partying in a pre-game tailgate bash that university officials said left a police officer injured and a girl needing stitches after she attempted a backflip off a pickup truck.

None of that was evident Saturday before the Tigers' football game against the Maine Black Bears, after university administrators cracked down on hard-core partying and set new rules for student tailgating.

Two hours before kickoff, just a few dozen students sipped beer, lobbed footballs and played cornhole. Most of the student tailgating lot was a sea of empty spaces.

"It's a slap in the face," said Sara Millman, a senior family studies major from Pikesville. "We have to pay the consequences for someone else."

Attendance at Saturday's game was 6,031, down from last week's crowd of 9,364.

Towson coach Rob Ambrose said he was "disappointed" by the turnout for the game, which Towson lost 27-24 after Maine scored a touchdown on fourth down with 52 seconds left.

"I'm extremely confident that our administration is going to figure out how it is that we can have a spirited, enjoyable tailgate like all other Division I schools have," he said. "It'd be nice to have more people in the stands and raise a little bit of hell at the end of the game."

After last weekend's raucous tailgate, university administrators considered banning tailgating altogether. Ultimately, they put in place a new set of restrictions and required students to attend a 30-minute workshop to get a parking pass for the student tailgating lot.

The workshops, which were announced Friday, were held Friday and Saturday. About 25 parking passes were handed out at the workshops, said Deb Moriarty, the university's vice president for student affairs.

The workshop included a slideshow showing pictures of desired tailgating activities contrasted against banned behaviors, such as fans sitting on camping chairs next to a cornhole set compared to people doing kegstands.

The goal, Moriarty said, was to "differentiate between a rave, which this has become, and a true tailgate."

Towson's tailgating rules include a limit on alcohol of no more than a six-pack of beer or 24 ounces of wine per tailgater, a ban on hard liquor and a ban on pickup trucks.

Saturday's tailgaters complained that the new rules were heavy-handed and poorly communicated to students.

"It was a little bit of a blindsiding," said Adam Vargas, a senior pre-med and physics major from New York state who set up soda, chips and fried macaroni and cheese bites on a table at his tailgate.

Vargas' tailgate was alcohol-free; most of the partiers were members of Alpha Phi Omega, a dry coed service fraternity. Though the limits on drinking didn't affect him, he worried that the crackdown on tailgates could dampen school spirit. He's trying to start a new student fan club on campus.

Further down the row, a group of students from Harford County served alcohol at their tailgate. They said no one checked the quantity of alcohol, but security officers did card students to make sure no one under 21 was drinking.

Alex Windsor, a senior science major from Abingdon, tended to sausages on a portable grill while his friends played cornhole.

Windsor said he thought last week's tailgate was typical for a college tailgate. "It was a college football atmosphere," he said.

Josh McFadden, a junior history major from Aberdeen, suggested that university administrators set the tougher rules because they fear the legal liability if someone is injured.

"Towson University is just scared," he said.

Ray Feldmann, a university spokesman, said the university could revisit the rules as the football season wears on.

"We're not anti-tailgating. We're not anti-fun," he said. "We're just pro-safety."

Baltimore Sun reporter Edward Lee contributed to this article.



An earlier version of this article misidentified where Sara Millman is from. She is from Pikesville. In addition, Adam Vargas' fraternity was misidentified. The fraternity is Alpha Phi Omega. The Baltimore Sun regrets the errors.

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