Give Us An All Student Tailgate

With the first home football game of the year under our belt, excitement is on the rise for black bear football, fall, flannels, and a jam-packed Morse Field stadium. Arguably the best part of football Saturdays at UMaine takes place before the game even starts. Friends, family, students and non-students alike park by the Alfond hours early just to get few beers and burgers in before kick-off. Don’t get me wrong, while I appreciate a plastic tablecloth and bowls of pasta salad just as much as the next student, there’s something about tailgating with parents that makes me cringe as much as it makes me laugh. While some parents will gladly shotgun a bud light to relive their glory days in college, some are a little too grown up for the shenanigans. I’m all for parents and family coming to the game and coming to tailgate, however, there’s something about a closed-off section full of upperclassmen celebrating their last year (years?) of school that we can only dream of.

During this 2016 football season, the far parking lot directly in between the Alfond arena and Morse Field has been transformed into a “dry” tailgate with no booze allowed. The alternative parking lots, in between the football field and Dunn Hall facing the field house have been turned into both family and student tailgates, only allowing students above 21. Integrating the two puts less liability on security crew, essentially guaranteeing that those drinking are of age. If we’re being honest, it’s probably safer and less rowdy to have parents intermingled with students.

But, it prevents the bond of students. We can’t just look to our left and right, guaranteed to recognize someone. We don’t have the camaraderie of our own peers, gearing up for a black bear win. We aren’t forced to put in our time eating cheap burgers on an old grill in the bed of a truck. Instead we have kabobs and canopies and silverware. It’s cushy.

We don’t get to experience roughing it with our fellow peers. Tailgating in the midst of parents and family takes away the ease of reaching out to the students in the parking space over from us. It takes away our ability to bond with just our fellow classmates both in silence and in screams and cheers. It hinders our spirits in the way that we cannot freely be ourselves as students. So, we tone it down a bit. And, before we know it we will be back at Morse Field, setting up our tablecloths and utensils as parents, watching our children enjoy the best few years of their lives.

For now, I encourage students to group together. Band together in one section of the parking lots. Bask in what could be your last year, last football game, last tailgate. Cheer louder, longer, and with more enthusiasm. Wear all your Maine gear. Paint your face. Live out every second of the time you get here. Because one day you’ll look back wishing you could do it all over again.