Public Safety ‘impressed’ with tailgating conduct

Daina Amorosano

About 200 cars pulled into Pike Lot to tailgate for the first home football game of the season on Saturday, Sept. 12, according to Director of Public Safety David Tedjeske.

Between 1,000 and 1,500 attendees filled the designated tailgating area, which had been partitioned off by Public Safety the night before, according to Tedjeske.

“This is finally the total game-day experience,” said senior Ali Porreca, who was tailgating with a group of friends. “It’s definitely providing for increased school spirit.”

Despite images of 30-packs and unruly crowds that tailgating might evoke, the event took on a much more controlled tone, perhaps in part due to the visible presence of both Radnor Police and Public Safety at the event.

Vehicles paid a fee of $20 per car to park in Pike Lot and tailgate there. Vehicles were also able to park in Main Lot for $10, and passengers as well as other pedestrians were able to walk in through the pedestrian entrance free of charge.

Five Public Safety officers monitored the area, including an officer that checked identification at the pedestrian entrance to ensure that all tailgaters were at least 21 years of age. Once admitted, all tailgaters remained subject to identification checks.

Police officers in neon vests directed traffic at the North Ithan intersection, while two other officers were stationed in the tailgating area for backup.

Only one student was found in the area to be under the age of 21. Public Safety asked the student to leave, and the matter was referred to Judicial Affairs.

Lehigh fans who attended the tailgate were accustomed to a rowdier environment.

“When I first came to Lehigh, I thought they had really strict regulations, but Villanova beats us tenfold,” Lehigh senior Patrick Fuller said.

“I was very impressed with the conduct of our students,” Tedjeske said. “This is really what we had in mind.”

Despite the light rain that began around 6:30 p.m., tailgaters remained in Pike Lot until Public Safety cleared the area at kickoff.

Although the event went smoothly, Public Safety still faces some challenges with the new system in place for admittance and access to the tailgating area.

At least one student had parked in Pike Lot before Public Safety had closed it off. When he came to pick up his car, he had to wait to be escorted to it because he was underage.

However, a youth football team was invited to do some tailgating in Pike Lot and other small children ran around the area.

“A child with a parent is not a concern for us,” Tedjeske said.

But while the youth football players were exempt from the over-21 rule, there is no exact rule for Villanova freshmen and sophomores who might want to tailgate with their parents.

“Parents’ weekend will definitely be a challenge for us,” Tedjeske said. “There are some gray areas.”