By Justin Williams, News Editor
University of New Hampshire Homecoming is a tradition that has been around for a long time and is a weekend that students and alumni look foreword to every year. While the weekend is filled with fun events for everyone, the most popular event by far is the football game and the tailgating that comes with it. This season however, tailgating will be run differently.
Unlike in the past where students and alumni have come together to tailgate in Boulder Field off of Main Street, this year the university plans to have two separate areas for every football game. Boulder Field will be intended more for alumni and families, while Lewis Field (home for UNH’s women’s soccer program) will be geared more toward students.
A number of factors went into this decision. One of them was that the university wanted people to be able to choose the type of experience they want when they attend Homecoming, according to Debbie Dutton, vice president for university advancement.
“We’re envisioning Boulder Field to be that family-oriented, traditional tailgating experience, but we also want to have an experience for people who want … more of a party scene,” Dutton said. “We’re now going to have that on [Lewis Field].”
The gathering on Lewis Field during Homecoming 2014 will be referred to as “Fan Festival,” and will have music, food and a live performance from the Dusty Gray Band.
Safety was another concern as the university decided how to handle this year’s Homecoming.
A special consideration was Homecoming traffic, said Marty Scarano, director of athletics.
“When people are queued up all the way to the Lee Traffic Circle at 4 o’clock [in the morning] and they’re outside their car partying, the police and all the jurisdictions didn’t look very favorably on that,” Scarano said. “Just look at it for what it’s worth — that’s drinking and driving by any description.”
To combat this, UNH made a rule so that the only way to drive into Boulder Field is to have a parking pass, which only alumni can purchase.
Scarano hopes that if people have passes, they will not feel the need to show up as early and clog the streets.
The overall goal Scarano has with these changes is for football to be synonymous with being a UNH student.
He said he recognized the fact that many students leave the game at halftime while others leave right after tailgating.
“I don’t want [students] just to come [to tailgating], abuse alcohol and go back to their dorm,” Scarano said. “I want the students to have a good time, but I also want them to be safe, and I also want them to be part of the game.”
As for how the students are reacting to these changes, some of them would rather Homecoming stay the same. Monica Cusack, a senior, said that she feels like the students are losing homecoming.
“I get the whole family aspect, but it sort of feels like UNH is taking it away from the students,” Cusack said. “It’s my last year … all my friends are 21, we want to be able to [tailgate] like the students in the past have been able too.”
According to an email from Mark Rubinstein, vice president for student and academic services, there was an online petition about the changes as well.
Homecoming weekend is Friday, October 10, to Sunday, October 12.