Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Yale update

My friends down in New Haven tried to sneak this one past me by reporting it on a Friday afternoon (standard P.R. practice), but I caught it eventually. In keeping with my tradition of trying to update past topics on the blog, I'll do so here.

You may remember my post in the immediate aftermath of the tragic fatal accident at this year's Harvard-Yale tailgate, in which I shared my opinion that the Yale administration would most likely ban kegs and U-Hauls as a means of "doing something", even though such a policy would be unlikely to help the overall situation, as it has not at Harvard. I wrote then:
I think that the memory of the deceased woman deserves better than this kind of kneejerk reaction, just as I think that the memory of the 9/11 victims deserves better than the disaster that is the TSA. I do think that we need to examine just why it is that college students seem so intent on drinking to excess, and blaming the venue (Lot D) or the method (U-Hauls full of kegs) doesn't do anything to address the issue at the heart of the matter. 
A woman is dead, and it is a tragedy. But we will only compound that tragedy if we use her memory as an excuse to Do Something Stupid. We may all look at this case and assume that "U-Haul full of kegs" was the problem, and that we need to eliminate U-Hauls full of kegs. But would the tragedy here--or the inherent risks  involved, or the response to the tragedy--have been any different if these women had been hit by a Chevy Suburban full of bottom shelf vodka? What if it had been a Ford Taurus full of hot dog buns? The media treatment would certainly be different, even though it's easy to argue that the tragedy at its core is no different. 
I was hopeful that Yale would take this opportunity to initiate a comprehensive review of campus life and tailgating in particular, but of course, no such luck.
Yale University has tightened its policy on tailgating after a Massachusetts woman was killed and two others injured when a U-Haul truck drove through a tailgating area at the Harvard-Yale football game in November. 
Yale will no longer permit kegs at university athletic events or functions, according to the revised policies released Thursday. The school said the policy is consistent with practices at many other universities, including Princeton and Harvard. 
Yale also said oversized vehicles, such as box trucks or large commercial vehicles, will not be allowed in university lots at athletic events unless driven by a preapproved authorized vendor. Student tailgating will end at kickoff, and all students and guests will be required to leave the student tailgating area.
Ultimately, this is a predictable, safe, and completely disappointing response from Yale. The result will undoubtedly be quite similar to the result at Harvard--students will drink just as much, but they will do it in private residences far away from the security staff and police presence that exists at the tailgating areas. If they do come to the tailgating area, they'll come armed with flasks full of cheap liquor, instead of kegs.

Is that safer? No, of course not. The risks to student safety will remain (and perhaps even be amplified), they will just be shifted elsewhere, farther from the public eye. I'm not surprised by Yale's response in the least, but I am disappointed. They had a chance to make bold moves, and so far it seems that they've squandered that opportunity.


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