No one on DePauw's campus will disagree that the Monon Bell game is the biggest sporting event every year here at DePauw.
But for some reason the excitement leading up to the game throughout the week does not seem to translate into excitement in the stands for many DePauw students. A few of the changes made to the pregame experience, especially tailgating, are responsible for this.
As a senior, I have seen a change in the tailgating environment over the past years at DePauw. There were very few "rules" associated with the tailgating experience before. The Greek chapters had no limitations on when they could begin tailgating and were scattered across the parking lot in their "traditional" locations. This was the way it used to be before the construction and changes to tailgating.
Everyone knew where each of the chapter's tailgates would be, and they were comfortably spaced out. The benefits of the old system are lost on the new group of first years who never experienced it. I feel like the old tailgating style facilitated a lively student body at home football games and more intermingling of student and alumni tailgates.
The added space for tailgating in the past prevented the congested feel that the tailgates have come to be defined by in the new system. For many upperclassmen, myself included, this congestion results in an aversion to the fraternity tailgating area.
The best part of DePauw's greek system is its openness. The old tailgating format exemplified this openness on fall Saturdays at DePauw. Members of every chapter were able to drift among all the tailgates to mingle with old friends from other houses. This consistent cross-fraternal tailgating experience helps to make our greek system unique and special. By consolidating all of the fraternity tailgates into such a tightly packed area, mingling is made nearly impossible. You end up spending 15 to 20 minutes squeezing through an onslaught of other game day participants trying to walk a measly fifty yards to see an old friend. This is aggravating and makes the tailgate significantly less attractive to older DePauw students who don't want to deal with all the headaches associated with it; especially compared to the comforts that the old system provided.
Another part of the old tailgating model that was especially advantageous for the student body was how close the student tailgates were to the tailgates of alumni and parents. One of the selling points of DePauw is how strong the alumni network is. It was always nice to converse with old alumni and hear stories of their days at DePauw. This interaction with alumni also helped translate to excitement in the stands for game. They come back for tailgating, but also to watch the rivalry game.
Because the student and alumni fans are segregated, this cross-pollination of school spirit never occurs and students do not see the importance of attending the game.
By changing the way DePauw students tailgate, the university has given students more of an opportunity to succumb to apathy. We feel like the game is a second priority to the drinking and partying of the tailgate.
If we do not have the opportunity to comfortably converse with our peers and see DePauw graduates excitement to cheer on our Tigers, attendance at the tailgate will continue to be socially mandatory, and the game will continue to be an after-thought.
-- Jaeger is a senior conflict studies major from Wyoming, Ohio.