COMMENTARY | "The Game" between Harvard and Yale and its long tailgating tradition needs to face facts. After a fatal accident Saturday, the tradition-bound student tailgate area is again under serious scrutiny. Although alumni and students fight for their right to a day of revelry, this accident puts a dent in their arguments that it is harmless fun.
Nancy Barry, 30, of Salem, Mass., was struck and killed by a U-Haul truck carrying beer kegs to a fraternity party. The truck also hit Sarah Short, 31, a student who was hospitalized, and Elizabeth Dernbach, 23, who suffered minor injuries. Barry's only affiliation to Yale was her friendship with Short, who she had known since high school.
While everyone acknowledges, accidents happen, especially where there is a crowd full of drinking rivals, this story is especially sad since the question of U-Hauls being allowed were continually discussed between school administrators and the student government. This long battle over tailgating and U-Hauls was, unfortunately for the family of Barry, still unresolved Saturday.
Yale officials considered banning them, but the student government won with the argument it needed a way to transport grills, coolers and food. The main issue in my opinion is the school officials turning a blind-eye to all the underage drinking that goes on at these events.
The Yale student who was driving the U-Haul has not been charged. In fact, he may be cleared if the findings prove it was vehicle malfunction as claimed. Witnesses say that the truck suddenly accelerated and was going at least 35 mph when it struck the women.
If the game was hosted at Harvard, this would have been averted since Harvard's rules toward tailgating are a bit stricter. Namely, Harvard does not allow U-Hauls or kegs. It acknowledges the danger of driving through the muddy fields with rented trucks full of alcohol erases only a small amount of the danger. The tall trucks also pose a separate problem, with students falling off the top when they turned the roof of the U-Haul's into dance floors.
The New Haven, Conn., game was paused while spectators stood in respect of the woman's death. Due to the nature of the wild tailgating parties, the people inside the stadium were most likely more aware of the accident than those in the parking lot. The tailgating parties are clearly an event all on their own, and someone in the school administration needs to have the guts to call the shots and make necessary changes to keep this time-honored tradition safe.
- Nancy Barry