The City of Lincoln’s Internal Liquor Committee is partnering with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for a tailgate tour before the Nebraska football game against Wisconsin on Oct. 7.
ILC chair Carl Eskridge said the committee is responsible for collecting data regarding alcohol consumption from a variety of places, including the Lincoln Police Department, UNL Police Department and local businesses.
The reasoning behind the tour is to collect data from the tailgates like they would from bars on gamedays, according to Eskridge. The committee does this by recording the number of people drinking along with each person’s age and gender.
Eskridge said the committee’s main focus is primarily to observe tailgating at locations such as parking lots and the North Bottoms.
Following the tailgate tours, ILC uses the data it collected to make a plan. The goal is for law enforcement, local businesses and the university to all be on the same page when dealing with alcohol issues.
Eskridge noted the importance of collaboration between the university, the law enforcement, law department and business owners working together to handle alcohol-related incidents.
Linda Major, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs at UNL, is responsible for facilitating a broader conversation between campus and community regarding how the campus responds to high-risk drinking. She has been on the ILC since its founding and has arranged every tour since the first tour four years ago.
Major said the group chooses a start location then follows a predetermined route. The participants on the tour include the ILC along with law enforcement. The tours are meant strictly for the ILC to gather data in order to prevent future alcohol-related incidents.
According to Major, the tours are meant for the members of the ILC to better understand the drinking environment around gameday. They walk together to get each member’s opinion on the locations they visit.
“People can look at a party that is just wild and loud and some could see it from a lense that these people are all trashed or these people are having a great time,” Major said.
There were a couple of reasons behind the tailgate tours and bar walks, said Major. One reason was that they were asking a certain generation of people to make decisions about an environment they never saw, she said.
Another major reason was the Indian Center’s involvement in gamedays, Eskridge said. In past years, many people would go to the Indian Center to park and party.
Three years ago, the situation escalated after more than a dozen tailgaters were arrested after becoming disorderly. As a result, the Indian Center board shut down its gameday activities due to pressure from the city.
The North Bottoms has become a scene for tailgating. Major said the area is not just a college neighborhood, so the alcohol-related activity going on there is disrupting permanent residents.
“We are trying to get a better sense of what is going on so we can be thinking about creative solutions,” she said.
The gameday tailgates are getting much attention right now, but Major said people are having misconceptions about college students in relation to the tailgating environment.
“You have to remember that sometimes we leave people with the impression that every college student acts and behaves in this way and that is simply not true,” she said. “The incoming percentage of first-year students, well over 80 percent of the incoming class, reported that they either abstain or choose to drink in very low-risk ways.”