Keeping Homecoming and Tailgating Safe

OSU Tailgate_Epsilon Epsilon_Fall 2014

Tailgating at Epsilon Epsilon (Oklahoma State).

By Drew Logsdon (Western Kentucky)

It’s that amazing time of year again when college campuses across the nation are weekly engulfed with the excitement of their alma maters taking the field for one of America’s greatest past-times: college football.

For Sigma Nu chapters across the nation, this time of year also means a flurry of tailgating and homecoming festivities. While this season is important to chapters and counts as a time-honored tradition, it’s equally important for every chapter to understand the risks involved with hosting or participating in this unique type of social function.  As legendary Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant once said, “It’s not the will to win that matters – everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”

So let’s look at tailgating and homecoming to fully understand the risks and how to avoid them altogether.

Ole Miss Grove_Flickr_Ken Lund

The Grove at the University of Mississippi. Courtesy of Flickr user Ken Lund.

Tailgates

Tailgating for football games can be one of the greatest examples of fellowship that college provides. Seas of grass become blanketed in an explosion of school colors, tents, grills, and fans.

However, the most obvious risk associated with these activities is alcohol. And alcohol can sour the good nature and fun of sportsmanship faster than Auburn can return a missed field goal for a touchdown. The fact that games tend be played at odd times doesn’t help either. Many Saturday games kickoff at noon or earlier which means most of those who have been consuming alcohol at a tailgate haven’t had much to eat.

Another big risk with tailgating comes after the game. Members and guests may return to the chapter house intoxicated which means some could have been on-again-off-again drinking alcohol for a 12+ hour period of time.

One of the best things your chapter can do is simply provide food. Have each member sign up for a food item to bring or have food catered. Be sure to consult your school’s policies on food to ensure that your chapter doesn’t conflict with your university’s food contract or grilling policies.

For more ideas on how to manage the risk of tailgating check out the resource We Have a Situation.

Penn State Homecoming Float

The Delta Delta (Penn State) Chapter home during the school’s homecoming last fall.

Homecoming

Homecoming is my favorite time of football season, as it is for many alumni. It’s a great time to see chapter brothers I haven’t seen regularly since graduation. I doubt I’m the only alumnus with these feelings and so it’s not surprising that this is an event I mark on the calendar well in advance.

But for your chapter, homecoming can present its own unique set of challenges. Not all alumni return to campus with the best of intentions and some may return with different ideas of what homecoming is all about.

It’s always best to ensure that your chapter communicates their homecoming plans with alumni well in advance. If the chapter isn’t doing anything at the house then take steps to make sure it is properly secured with help from the house corporation.

Here’s an article from a past Risk Reduction Newsletter about the importance of putting your best foot forward at homecoming and how the chapter’s behavior could negatively affect alumni relations in a single event: http://www.sigmanu.org/documents/risk_reduction_newsletter_2012_10.pdf

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