Despite expected protests following Duke University’s decision to cancel its popular tailgate celebration, the campus remained calm for this past weekend’s football game as most students simply moved the party off campus.
University administrators said the partying was kept to a minimum and was contained to Greek houses, residence halls and bars located near the campus.
But this is not what university leaders expected.
A Facebook group titled “Main Quad Throwdown,” was formed after the university canceled its traditional pre-game events.
Administrators were worried the event might jeopardize the safety of students after an unconscious minor was found in a portable toilet before Duke’s Nov. 6 game.
The minor, a sibling of a student and guest at the event, was later released from Duke Emergency Services in fair condition.
Administrators decided to end all tailgating events after the incident.
Mike Lefevre, student body president at Duke, said administrators convinced the student who created the Facebook event to cancel. The group had about 1,000 confirmed guests.
“I was fearing a rebellion,” Lefevre said. “There was an immediate crowd swing against the cancellation (of tailgate), but Duke students are rule followers, that’s how we got here in the first place.”
Chris Heltne, a Duke spokesman, said students were upset with the school’s decision, but did not express irritation before Duke’s game against Boston College on Saturday.
“There were ideas floating around earlier in the week — non-sanctioned events — but ultimately students decided not to do them,” Heltne said.
Lefevre said Shooters II, a local bar in Durham, was an alternative to tailgating for many students.
“There were buses running back and forth to pick up students but people who went to Shooters II didn’t really attend the game,” he said.
Heltne said an estimated three times as many students attended the game on Saturday, but didn’t say if it was related to the absence of tailgate.
After the loss of the tailgate event, students expressed interest in developing an alternative.
“We want to develop something innovative and new, an event that feels like it’s ours and not something we inherited,” Lefevre said.
Heltne said conversations for next year’s event should start taking place in January.
“We want a new event to be something creative, something unique but at the same time, still very Duke.”
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