University reviewing student tailgate proposal


Jonathan Garza

Members of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity shotgun beer while tailgating before the UT versus New Mexico football game. Austin Police usually stay out of the parking lots, despite the potential for underage drinking.

Eleanor Dearman

With tailgates at UT football games currently spread across various parking lots around Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, leaders from one student organization have proposed a single student tailgate to unite students.

Ryan Shingledecker, former Students for Texas Athletics president and current president Preston Moore are in the process of working with University officials to create a University-sponsored student tailgate. Shingledecker, a international relations and global studies senior, said the tailgate is still only an idea at this point, but once established, the tailgate would be a single area for all students to go to before football games.

Moore, who is a finance, business honors and Plan II senior, said the tailgate would be similar to those held by other universities that have tailgates located on campus for students and alumni, with various student organizations involved.

“The goal of it is to unify the student body and to have the tradition of being able to go as a student of an organization or not of an organization,” Moore said. “Anybody could come and tailgate all together in one spot.”

Shingledecker said the concept of a student tailgate came to him while running for Student Government president in 2013. According to Shingledecker, during his campaign, many students said they would like to see a tailgate on campus.

Shingledecker, who ultimately lost the SG election, joined Students for Texas Athletics and developed a proposal with Moore, outlining their ideal student tailgate. The proposal was presented to UT Athletics on April 28 and is currently under review.

“We’re in the process of meeting with people, and that’s one of those things where our hopes might not be able to come to fruition because we put everything we would ever want,” Shingledecker said.

The group’s ideal location for the tailgate is the East Mall.

“We think it would be cool to have tailgating on the East Mall, from the Tower all the way down to the stadium,” Shingledecker said. “The hope in that is that we have the Tower in the background leading up to the stadium.”

Gerald Harkins, associate vice president of Campus Safety & Security, said this location is a possibility, but factors such as pedestrian traffic, the loading and unloading of equipment and the maintenance of facilities, among others, must be considered before a decision is made.

Another factor being considered is the consumption of alcohol by those at the tailgate.

“We want students to have fun, but we also know there are liabilities and risks involved, too,” Moore said.

Harkins said, if alcohol is sold, a policy must be implemented to keep attendees and those passing through safe.

“If you make the assumption that there is going to be alcohol there, which I was told there would be — so people over 21 are going to be drinking — you’ve got to do ID cards or wristbands,” Harkins said.

SG President Kori Rady said he is also interested in establishing a student tailgate and has met with members of the athletics department as potential funders, but, with all the changing parts, no decisions have yet been made.

“Athletics is extremely busy throughout the season and prior to the season,” Rady said. “Sometimes, it is really difficult in certain situations to implement such a large-scale event.”

Rady said he hopes to at least set the foundation for a student tailgate this year.