As the fall season continues on, Bronco football fans will set up miniature parties in parking lots near Waldo Stadium and tailgate. This is a great time where friends, family, and fellow sports fans can converse and intermingle while grilling and drinking their favorite beverages. This tradition of tailgating is practiced here at Western Michigan University.
“It’s a college tradition,” said Seth Weber, a junior and a tailgater at WMU. “Students are looking for fun and everyone gets together and develops a comradery.
But it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.
WMU’s Department of Public Safety has been stepping up security to keep fans, tailgaters, and visitors safe during the tailgating experience. DPS has set up guide lines and “do’s and don’ts” to limit problems and promote a safe tailgating atmosphere.
“Tailgating is huge [at WMU],” said Lt. Jeffery Lillard of WMU’s Department of Public Safety. “I don’t remember a year when it hasn’t been big.”
Tailgating at WMU extends on both East and West campuses. The biggest tailgating areas on campus that students go to are in lots 104 and 105, which are near the College of Health and Human Services building, and lot 13, which is outside the Student Recreation Center. Officers usually close lots off to other tailgaters when the lots get full.
“[Lots 4 and 5] are popular for students,” said Lillard. “Usually vendors show up there and give out free things.”
Parking areas immediately surrounding the football field are closed off to the public and reserved for Mike Gary Athletic Fund donors, according to the Parking Services website. Lots 1, 2, 3 (which are near Oakland Street on East Campus) and 13 are the only lots that are allowed to have RV’s parked there.
Most lots will require each vehicle to pay $10 to park.
Tailgating does have regulations that everyone must follow. The following rules are enforced by the campus police:
1. Tailgating is permitted from 2 1/2 hours prior to kick-off to the start of the game
2. Tailgating is not permitted during the game or at half time
3. No glass containers are allowed. Plastic and aluminum cans are OK
4. No couches or upholstered furniture are permitted
5. Kegs, half barrels, pony kegs or other common alcohol containers are prohibited
6. Large U-Hauls are not allowed to tailgate
7. Only one space per vehicle
8. Violators will be removed and may face criminal prosecution
There are also large signs posted near the entrances of many parking lots that will state rules and regulations on tailgating.
“We strictly enforce these rules,” said Lillard. “We try to maintain these rules as strict as possible.”
When Saturday comes, Bronco fans will fill the many parking lots all around campus celebrating the game and the Homecoming. The goal of DPS is to have a safe tailgating environment and protect Bronco fans and visitors. DPS will be out on patrol and will intervene if tailgaters get out of control.
“As long as people get along, it’s fine,” said Lillard. “But once people get out of hand, we will get involved.”