LILIKAS: Continue to support Scarlet Knights against all odds
Opinions Column: Digital Canvas
Rutgers University, the birthplace of college football, the home of the Scarlet Knights and now, sadly, the resting place of "The Alley." Our Rutgers community is going through a grieving period currently after the loss of such a remarkable place — gone, but never forgotten. For those Scarlet Knight fans that are unaware of this heartbreak, or that are not yet tired of hearing about it, The Alley was a Rutgers Athletics-sponsored lot for students and student-run organizations to tailgate preceding the games on Saturdays. Although only 25 parking passes were offered in this designated area, this was a place that some referred to as a “sanctuary,” a “godsend.” People were taking to social media, saying that Rutgers tailgating was back and this is what Big Ten tailgating should look like. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were saturated with posts and articles and pictures of The Alley. But as we all know, this was unfortunately very short-lived, and students had a lot of trouble swallowing the news.
Via Twitter, word was spreading like bed bugs that The Alley was no more. I remember how awestruck everyone was. Group chats were blowing up, people created Facebook petitions to boycott football games, posted on Instagram in memoriam, even created t-shirts to “Save The Alley.” There seemed to be just a lot of confusion because The Alley was closed down because of safety concerns. But I don’t think I have seen a safer place in my three years, and this was a significant change for students to get their spirits up (pun intended) before the game. Water was provided upon entry, authorities supervised, families and young children remained undisturbed from rowdy, drunk college students. So, if anything, this seemed like the safer option. This kept students from wandering around campus (more than likely while intoxicated) with alcohol in hand scattering from house to house, weaving between streets and oncoming traffic. This tailgating safe-haven was the perfect idea and place to finally get Rutgers to have some school spirit and unity.
It didn’t matter if you were in a fraternity or sorority, or if you even went to Rutgers, because in the midst of that congregation of joy, there was no time for fighting, getting too rowdy or asking, “Who do you know here?” Being on Busch was already making it easier for students to avoid traffic and buses and actually want to be there in time for kickoff and not just stop by for chicken fingers before half-time. There were just so many positives to The Alley, and that made it even harder to wrap our heads around its shutting down. I get it. I am probably not the first person to address their opinion on the situation, but with the Blackout game coming up and our low spirits from the Rutgers versus Ohio State shutout, The Alley, or even something like it, is just what we need. The University and Rutgers Athletics need to address their concerns publicly, work on possible alternatives and, eventually, bring it back.
But I am still glad that in exchange for The Alley, we are trying something new and creative 147 years after hosting the first-ever intercollegiate football game. Rutgers is taking advantage of the huge student body and support system they have by “Striping the Birthplace.” Other than the blacked-out student section, the stadium will be a sea of black and red stadium sections. Fans and players are discouraged right now, and a low turnout at this annual Blackout game cannot be on the agenda. By “striping the birthplace,” hopefully morale will pick up and we can bring some of that same unabashed enthusiasm we had at the 2014 Blackout. The odds are against us for this Michigan game, like really against us. And with the way social media has been criticizing and portraying us, Rutgers is slowly losing its appeal. To some, it seems like we can’t compete, they are out of our league. But we earned our place here and we earned our name. Even if we lose a few games or get some bad media, I am never embarrassed to mention how proud I am of my school, as we all should be. So even if we have terrible odds, players thrive on the energy their fans give off and a raucous atmosphere is the only way we can keep our team motivated. We may not have a prime tailgating location where an entire student body is unified in the spirit of football, but we’ve managed without it before. Let’s all try and do it for The Alley!
Epatia Lilikas is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in English and economics. Her column, “Digital Canvas,” runs monthly on Wednesdays.
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