Letter to Gary Barta concerning the new tailgating rules

Below is a letter that I wrote to Gary Barta about the new tailgating rules.

Hello Mr. Barta, I am a 22 year old student writing this e-mail to you in concern of the new tailgating rules. Before setting up for our first tailgate of the year, I was well aware of the new tailgating rules, and on the whole, I saw them as mostly common sense. I had read various articles as well as seen many news reports on what the changes would be. No open containers on sidewalks and streets as well as no drinking 2 hours after the end of the game were two of the main changes I had heard about. I've never even gone back to the tailgating lots after the end of a game or been that concerned with walking the streets with an open container; we set up our tailgate, enjoy the atmosphere and head to the game. That being said, we were able to accomplish two of those this last Saturday, and enjoying the atmosphere was not one of them.

The day before the game Myrtle Ct opened up at 8pm for tailgating parking. We showed up as soon as we could and bought three spots at $15 apiece. The next day we arrived at 5:30 by taxi to set up. We set up our two collapsible tents as well as tables and a large Hawkeye flag. As we were setting up Per Mar security running the lot kindly approached us and informed that there could be no open containers until 7am. We asked if we could turn on music as long as we kept it at a reasonable level and they said there was no problem with music. Of course it was nearly 6am in the morning still and with houses by Myrtle Ct, we kept the music within our area. By 630 the lot was filling up and people had begun drinking. We figured we probably could begin drinking, but since I'm 22, my friend was 22 and my two other friends currently with us were 21, we would still probably stick out. The plan was to play beer pong with water until 7.

While we were playing beer pong (with water, I say beer pong because water pong just sounds ridiculous) three police cars fly into the lot and one promptly parks in front of our tailgate. No big deal, I assumed, we all are just barely of age and probably stick out. I knew the University was cracking down and we were probably going to be Id'd. The older officer in the car comes storming out and says "Turn off the music, pack everything up and get the hell out of here." I was so taken back that I thought the officer was joking, but before I could even force a chuckle the officer once again began demanding that we "Take down the tents and get your vehicles out of the lot." I asked what the problem was and he said we had amplified music and drinking games and that we had to remove our vehicles from the premises. I told him that we didn’t have enough sober drivers to move the vehicles and he accused us of drinking before the allowed time. I told him that we were drinking before we took the taxis to Myrtle Ct. After a back and forth for about 5 minutes the officer allowed to let us stay as long as we packed up our tables and turned off our music.

I do not need to start posting links to similar complaints, for it is just as easy for you to search the internet and see the outcry. A 60 year old woman was ticketed for crossing the street with an alcoholic drink and sent home crying, some of the schools largest contributors told to quit the traditions they have held dear to them for years. This is not so much about what is lawful and unlawful but what is right and wrong and I know we were wronged, like surly so many others tailgating on Saturday, not only by their University, but by the people that are hired to “Protect and Serve.” With great power comes great responsibility and I feel that with the added power given to the police from the university it is not the common tailgater acting irresponsible but the police officer harassing the fans who came out to root for the school they love.

So I leave you with this Mr. Barta, who are the knuckleheads? Maybe you should more eloquently clarify your stance on what exactly makes up a “knucklehead.” Because according to you, I’m a knucklehead, my friends are knuckleheads, a 60 year old woman crossing the street is a knucklehead and the fans that make the university what it is are “knuckleheads.” You can't hold a whole people responsible for the behavior of a few irresponsible individuals. For if you do, then shouldn't we blame the whole college system? And if the whole college system is guilty, then isn't this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Mr. Barta! Isn't this an indictment of our entire American society? So ask yourself Mr. Barta, who are the knuckleheads?

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