Student campaign to bring back 'The Alley' hits dead end
With classes and college football season now in full swing, one thing is missing between this September and last — The Alley.
But even with the Riot Squad, the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association working in conjunction with the administration, promises to bring back the tailgating lot will not be realized anytime soon. According to a joint statement released by the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA), efforts to bring back The Alley have hit a dead end.
“We met multiple times with the Athletic Department and the administration to try and find a promising solution but a solution could not be found and unfortunately, ‘The Alley’ will not be back for this season or the foreseeable future,” said William Cundiff, a School of Engineering sophomore and athletic coordinator for RUSA.
At the moment a decision could not be made on what is best for the students due to the lot’s shut down for health and safety concerns, Cundiff said.
“The student leadership very much understands that in trying to accomplish any of those types of things you’re trying to balance your desire to provide students with the most enjoyable game day with our fiduciary obligation as administrators of a university to provide a safe environment,” said Pat Hobbs, director of Athletics.
There are very few universities that provide a student tailgate area, Hobbs said, and the reason for that includes the type of rules the university has to impose in terms alcohol availability and consumption.
In terms of working through aspects like location and rules, Hobbs said they all agreed that for this year it is not going to be possible because the schedule is "front-loaded."
Cundiff said the administration did what they thought could be done and with the best intentions of the students in mind, the organizations felt that it did not come across as fulfilling the students wants and needs.
“The students get it," Hobbs said. "That’s one of the things I love about Rutgers University is our students are very savvy, they’re very smart and they actually elect great leaders."
He said it was agreed that if a student tailgate area could not be accomplished then they could work on other ways to enhance the student game day experience.
“Our main goal is to develop more game day traditions, which is huge, and I believe both Rutgers Athletics and the school overall needs that,” Cundiff said.
Cassandra Guarino, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said The Alley is absolutely necessary to enhance the feeling of togetherness at Rutgers.
“I feel having a designated lot at the stadium not only enhances our school spirit but the participation or attendance at the games as well,” Guarino said.
Cundiff said they are working on multiple ways to enhance the game day experience including altering transportation and making the trip to High Point Solutions Stadium more seamless for students.
Hobbs said they are focusing on the aspects of the game day that they have control over.
“Every school wants a great game day on a Saturday whether you’re a Division 3 institution or you’re a Power 5 institution,” he said.
Hobbs said that for the coaches and for the football players, what they want is a great student turnout. They want students in the stadium as soon as they can get there.
The game against the University of Washington was a great example of this, he said — a lot of the students had not even moved in, yet the student section was the was the first section to be filled.
“We’ll continue to look for ways to enhance the student game day experience with things like getting wifi in the stadium, which we’re now working on,” Hobbs said.
It is not simply about finding a place where students can gather, he said. It is about how to enhance every part of the student experience. Hobbs said being in the Big Ten is vital to Rutgers' identity and should be celebrated.
“This is what we get to do for fun. Game day should be about having a good time,” he said.
Guarino said she feels school officials are responsible for creating a space for student tailgating because they can make it into a more organized event and prevent Rutgers from looking like a group of rambunctious college students.
Student leadership shares in the disappointment with the students but will continue to work with the Athletics Department for a solution as they see an undeniable need for more student tradition, according to their statement.
“Right now everything is just getting talked over and we are just trying to do the best we can for the students and for everyone's enjoyment,” Cundiff said.
Brielle Diskin is a School of Arts and Sciences junior. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.