Police say business as usual at Homecoming tailgate area

By Gus Bode

Despite 19 alcohol-related arrests at last year’s homecoming tailgate, more than the previous six years combined, SIUC Police are treating this year’s event like any other football game.

SIUC Police said the tailgate two weeks ago resulted in seven underage alcohol possession arrests and three arrests for criminal damage to property. Five of those arrested for underage possession were released on recognizance bonds and the other two were issued notices to appear in court.

Todd Sigler, director of public safety for SIUC, said the new tailgating location is safer for the students and can be effectively monitored with the same number of officers as the old location.


“There was nothing alarming or out of the ordinary,” Sigler said.

From 1998 to 2002, there were 18 arrests at SIUC homecoming tailgates. In 2003, the arrest figures were more than double the previous year.

Removing the students from the high-speed traffic on Route 51 makes the students safer, Sigler said, and the new location has a grassy field where students can enjoy activities besides drinking and barbecuing, like throwing a football around.

Fathi el Shazli, a senior in computer engineering, said the new location is better for students and easier for the police to control.

“That’s too close to the highway if people are getting drunk,” Shazli said, pointing to the parking lot next to McAndrew Stadium, last year’s homecoming tailgate site.

Some students disagree that the new location provides any advantage, given that football games are visible from there.

“I don’t understand why people would tailgate where they can’t see the game,” said Darlene Dues, a senior in theater performance. “They might as well stay home and barbecue in the back yard.”


However, not all students go to the tailgate party to drink.

Daryl McNeil, a senior in liberal arts, said he goes to get something to eat before the game, and might take his five-year-old nephew with him to the homecoming tailgate.

“It doesn’t make any difference,” McNeil said of the new location. “People are going to drink no matter where you put them.”

Carbondale Police Chief Steve Odum said the biggest preparation for the upcoming homecoming weekend involves working with University police to secure the parade route, which runs north on University Avenue to Cherry Street and turns back south on Illinois Avenue.

“There’s more excitement generated, more activities planned. Some people take time off to be here, so there’s more people around,” Odum said.

Deputy Chief of Operations Calvin Stearns would not say how many extra officers would be on the street this weekend, but said most of them will be helping with traffic control.