CHAPEL HILL — Tailgating parties, at which sports fans ingest food and drink set out on the tailgates of their vans and station wagons, have become a virtual staple prior to athletic events. But the chancellor of the University of North Carolina has asked fans to refrain from "providing students with a poor -- and very public -- example."
Chancellor Michael Hooker urged spectators to follow law and campus policy by not consuming alcohol in public places. Signs were posted near Kenan Stadium prior to Saturday's first game of the season, warning that the "display and consumption of alchohol and open containers of alcohol are prohibited."
Abuse of alcohol has become a particularly sensitive subject on the Chapel Hill campus, following the alcohol-related death of a freshman last year, and a May fire in which five students died. Alcohol was not directly implicated in the May fire, but it followed an all-night fraternity party at which there was drinking.
Although campus police did not ask to sniff drinking containers, they did patrol parking lots, looking for violators.
Some adult fans said their tailgating spreads were not the source of the problem. "I think (the chancellor) is barking up the wrong tree with that," said Laura Lloyd of Chapel Hill. "The alumni, the faculty and the staff who come (to games), they're not the problem."
Those fans who were caught Saturday violating the policy were issued warnings and instructed to pour out the liquor.
Some fans thought the policy was a wise idea. One woman said she had three children attending UNC, and she endorsed the concept of restraint.
Lt. Mark McIntyre of the UNC Department of Public Safety, said there seemed to be less drinking on Saturday. "You see a lot more people drinking soft drinks....You used to just walk around and everybody was drinking.