Charles Nailen/The Hoya Two partygoers at last year’s homecoming tailgate look out at the festivities from the top of their car. This year, cars will not be allowed at the tailgate.

A lack of available outdoor parking space and a desire to deemphasize drinking has prompted university administrators and alumni and student leaders to overhaul the football tailgate, typically the main event of Homecoming Weekend, on Oct. 9-12.

Beginning this year, tailgating will take place in the McDonough Gymnasium parking lot, and due to space constraints, students and alumni will not be allowed to bring cars for the tailgate. The start of construction on the Royden B. Davis, S.J., Performing Arts Center next Monday will turn Lot T, the site of the tailgate for the past three years, into a construction staging area.

Tailgaters will no longer be allowed to bring their own food and drink, after past tailgating parties resulted in excessive drinking and trash problems, according to homecoming committee members.

Instead, the university will provide all-you-can-eat barbeque and beer for $5 or unlimited food and soda for $3. The revamped event will also include live music from Unforgettable Fire, a U2 cover band, from the beginning of the event until the start of the football game.

“We’ve helped build what most people will view as a much better program,” Michael Boyle (MSB ’00), homecoming alumni chair, said. “It’s an event very similar to Senior Week and Block Party.”

In addition to dealing with space constraints as a result of new construction, administrators working with the homecoming committee have worked to shift focus away from heavy drinking associated with past tailgating events.

“A committee of students, alumni, staff and faculty have been working on this enhanced Homecoming over the past 11 months, and we really believe that the changes will attract a broad range of alumni and will provide plenty of options for students as well,” Todd Olson, interim vice president for student affairs, said.

Boyle said that rowdy behavior had created a dangerous environment. “People get excessively drunk, they start dancing on roofs of their cars, and it’s not an atmosphere we want to promote,” he said. “People might see it as fun, but when it gets stupid and violent it’s not fun.”

Homecoming committee members also said they hope that the new event will increase alumni attendance.

“Hopefully this will attract alumni of all generations, not just those from recent years,” GUSA President Brian orgenstern (COL ’05) said.

Matthew Lambert, associate director of Undergraduate Class Advancement for the Office of Alumni and University Relations, said that he expects strong attendance from this year’s event. “There have already been very positive responses from alumni, and a renewed interest in Homecoming from older classes of alumni,” he said

Patrick Hughes (COL ’05), student homecoming chair, said that the design for the new event originated last fall after University Provost James J. O’Donnell charged the committee to revise the annual tailgate.

“In his charge to the Committee, Provost O’Donnell stated the importance of providing activities that represent the multiple sectors of Georgetown life,” Hughes said. “He also voiced concern about the binge mentality of tailgating in recent years, asking the committee to investigate alternative methods of tailgating that might relieve the danger of excessive alcohol consumption.”

Hughes said that this is the “first of a three-year series of Homecoming Weekends looking to revamp Homecoming into a safer, more comprehensive weekend.”

O’Donnell said that while he was less involved in the specifics of the event, he has worked to help fund the activities.

“I have approved and will help pay for the revised plans, which are designed to make the event bigger, happier and more inclusive of a variety of members of the Georgetown family than has been the case in the past,” he said.

Boyle said that although the committee hopes to create an event that promotes safety and responsible drinking, revelers can still enjoy themselves at the event.

“We didn’t want to do tickets, and there are no limits on what you can or can’t have,” he said. “There’s a system where we can have a happy medium, allowing for some control, but as long as people are behaving themselves we don’t have to restrict anything.”

In addition to the new tailgating event, the committee has worked to build more programs around the weekend. In addition to the tailgate, the weekend’s events include a 5K run through the Georgetown neighborhood, a golf tournament, faculty-led lectures and seminars, a concert featuring Vertical Horizon, Train and Sister Hazel, a community service project and campus tours.

“The administration has been great working with us. The recognition is that the event is changing and students may feel like something is being taken away from them,” Boyle said. “However, lots of money is being donated to put towards the weekend so that students and alumni will really enjoy it.”

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