By Keanu Haghighi (@KeanuHaghighi):
Up until this year, Saturday afternoons used to be a time when students congregated at South Campus to celebrate game day. If you go there on a Saturday afternoon this year, you will be welcomed by a deserted dirt field with no students in sight.
Even in the past when San Jose State football struggled on the field, you would still see students dancing and socializing at the tailgates. That narrative is gone this year.
Yoni Feldman, Vice President of Standards for the Inter Fraternity Council explained why students are not tailgating this year.
“In the recent few years, the university has placed restrictions on the students that made it impossible to tailgate,” Feldman said. “This season those restrictions were lifted, but when students attempted to organize tailgates among themselves they were met with contradicting messages from various sources on what they can and cannot do.”
While at the tailgate field students are not permitted to bring trucks, play music without a permit, or drink in large groups. Over the past several years, all of these things were permitted and not-so coincidentally the attendance at the football games were much higher.
At the last home game versus San Diego State, the only patrons participating in the festivities were alumni. Even the bus drivers who drive students from campus to CEFCU Stadium were puzzled by the lack of students. A bus driver said she had only driven three students in the hours leading off to kickoff.
It was difficult to find any students to interview, but after about an hour of searching, senior Nick Marquez gave his opinion as to why the tailgates at San Jose State have been awful this year.
“There needs to be more accountability by the school itself, not by the students not showing up, because it starts at the institutional level at the top,” Marquez said.
Although coach Brennan spoke to Greek life about wanting their participation on gameday, there has been mixed signals between athletics, the school and the student body. Feldman believes that the school and students have a disconnect between them which has resulted in such disappointing tailgates.
“I believe that they [the school] treat us this way because of the issues happening on college campuses all over the United States,” Feldman said. “I believe that if given a chance, the students of San Jose State can show them that these assumptions are not correct.”
With the recent reports of student related deaths occurring on other campuses such as Penn State, Florida State and LSU, it makes sense as to why San Jose State is taking extra precautions when it comes to safety particularly tailgates. However, there is a big difference between taking safety precautions and impeding on the students gameday experiences.
A staple of these tailgates were fraternities parking their trucks on the tailgate field and providing students a space to party with their friends. However, fraternities have been shunned from the school which contributes to the lack of student attendance.
“During the first tailgate that the fraternities were present at, we were told to follow the rules on the athletics website,” Feldman said. “ But once we played music, the security threatened to kick us out as well as call the police on them [the fraternities],”
That wasn’t the only time SJSU students were discouraged from tailgating.
“During the homecoming game, all proper permits and paperwork were filled with the school in order to organize a group tailgate. When we arrived we again we were threatened with eviction and the police again,” Feldman said.
In addition to all of this, a 1-10 record for the Spartans does not help draw bigger crowds on Saturdays.
With a frustrating season both on and off the field, we very well are seeing the demise of traditions that come with Spartans football.