How to have fun at tailgates responsibly

University officials speak about how you can protect yourself and others at games.


Natalie Angel

Students party under a tent before FAU’s football game against FIU on Oct. 2, 2021.

Nathalie Vega, Staff Writer

FAU games bring together large groups, and tailgates provide a way for many attendees to socialize. However, there are policies these attendees must follow, and professionals suggest additional safety measures. 

The university has policies to prevent our community from misusing alcohol. For example, all people on university campuses or facilities, and all people at university events who possess alcohol must be of the legal drinking age, and proof of age is required. 

“If you’re going to be hosting a tailgating party, you want to make sure that nobody is drinking under the age of 21, even if that means checking driver’s licenses,” said Candace Lightner, founder and president of We Save Lives, a non-profit organization that informs people about driving safely, and encourages them to do so. 

Lightner said that hosts should have plenty of food and beverages besides alcohol. She also recommends for university officials to ban the consumption of alcohol and drugs on campus. 

Currently, the university’s policy is alcohol may only be possessed by, served to, and consumed by people over 21 years old. The university has a tailgate-specific policy that states individuals may only serve and drink alcohol in the university-designated area monitored by campus police. People cannot enter the stadium with alcohol and university officials are allowed to deny entry to those showing signs of intoxication.

“The second thing is just to keep educating their students about the issues with drinking and driving, and drugs and driving, and offering them alternative ways of having a good time,” Lightner said. She encourages students to use designated drivers. 

Donald Van Pelt, FAU’s director of Student Activities and Involvement on the Boca Raton campus, explained the Owls Care Health Promotion office suggests additional ways to stay safe through Work and Play Smart tips for Game Day. This includes staying hydrated and keeping water visible for guests, eating a “balanced meal” at least 30 minutes before consuming alcohol and eating throughout the event, avoiding overcrowding, protecting yourself from the sun, and making tailgate hosts visible.

According to Van Pelt, FAU has Emergency Medical Services (EMS) for attendants at every game. He also said that FAU has a medical amnesty policy on the Dean of Students’ website meant to encourage students and registered student organizations to act responsibly and to seek medical assistance in serious situations resulting from alcohol or drug misuse. 

According to Larry Faerman, acting vice president for student affairs, there are times for tailgates, relative to the game’s start time. Once the tailgating time concludes, law enforcement, contracted security, and student affairs staff will make sure the tailgates are closed so attendees can enter the game. 

“The end time is a specified time just before kickoff for football, or tip-off for a basketball game,” Faerman said. 

Faerman advises attendees to stay hydrated, to eat, to protect themselves from the sun, and he also advises students about grouping. “I always say people are safest in groups,” he said. 

Faerman says that FAU has multiple EMS units on campus on game day, referring to the Boca Raton Fire Department. He also says that FAU has security, police officers, emergency medical technicians, and staff to provide help, answers to questions, concerns, or directions. 

If you encounter a safety problem while at a tailgate such as someone with alcohol poisoning or someone passed out, call 911 or FAUPD at (561) 297-3500.

FAU’s first home game is Saturday, Aug. 27, where they will be facing the Charlotte 49ers.

Nathalie Vega is a staff writer for the University Press. For more information on this article or others, you can reach Nathalie at [email protected].