Two days away from the first home football game of the season, administrators are still unclear on the specific parameters of the recently announced policies regulating alcohol at the athletic complex, haven't communicated many details to student leaders, and don't appear to have any space available for students to tailgate this weekend.
Although a few student leaders were informed of the changes earlier this week, they only became widely known yesterday, and a number of groups that were planning tailgate parties are currently in limbo.
According to Lisa Hogarty, executive vice president of Administrative and Student Services, the change is not a result of any new policies being created, but rather the standardization of alcohol policies throughout Columbia.
"The alcohol policy in Lerner and everywhere else works really well," Hogarty said. "I think it's one of the best in the country of any university, and it's just a matter of making sure that we're doing it across the board."
While it is still unclear which administrative body will be overseeing student-run gatherings or tailgates at Baker Field, the new regulations appear to prohibit any groups from bringing in alcohol.
Formerly, students were allowed to tailgate in Baker Field's parking lot and hold barbecues in the adjacent practice field and other open spaces.
Columbia athletic director Dr. M. Dianne Murphy was unavailable for comment, despite numerous attempts to contact her.
In an interview earlier this week, Barry Neuberger, associate director for Sports Marketing, said he believed students with prior permission from their class advisors would be allowed on the northeast part of the practice field before kickoff, but Hogarty said that there would not be room available on the practice field for student tailgate parties this weekend, because the space is being used for an event for Columbia employees and their families.
She suggested that students reserve parking spots in parking lot B, but according to an official statement from the Athletic Department, "reserved parking at the Baker Field Athletics Complex is not available" for this season. "No day-of game parking passes will be available for any home game at either Parking Gate B or Parking Gate C."
Kevin Shollenberger, associate dean of Student Affairs, declined a request for an interview yesterday but wrote in an e-mail that there would be "one area designated for students during the home games," which would be open to the general student body and not reservable for student group events. He did not specify the area, and it is difficult to see a large area reserved for students with both the practice field and parking lot now effectively off-limits.
"We are investigating with Athletics, for future home games, if reservable space could be made available near the designated general student tailgating space for student groups to barbecue. However, the groups would not be able to serve alcohol," he wrote.
Hogarty promised that administrators would "have clarification on where [students] can go" by the homecoming game, which will occur in three weeks.
Hogarty also said the stricter enforcement policy arose partly from incidents last year involving behavior from students "that was not only inappropriate, but also unsafe." She said these problems were "the tipping point" and spurred the administration's stronger enforcement this year.
"Public safety [workers] had concerns, Athletics had concerns, I had concerns about the administration of this policy, so we started this discussion over the summer," Hogarty said. "The overall goal is to make [Baker Field] a very safe and fun venue for any sporting events."
Hogarty was not sure if groups would be able to register to bring in alcohol in the future, but said that students can purchase it at the new Lions Tailgate concession stand, which will serve beer and soda this weekend.
The concession stand will be operated by employees of Columbia Catering, the same agency that runs Faculty House. "That will be managed just like we do other large-scale student events," Hogarty said.
She emphasized that the stand is not meant to make money and said they would sell the beer and soda at prices to break even.
"Hopefully [Lions Tailgate] encourages even more people to come," Hogarty said. "It's really not a revenue opportunity, it's a community opportunity,"