Game day includes a substance-free tailgate this weekend

Students, faculty, staff and Iowa State football fans have another option for entertainment before Saturday's kickoff against Kansas State at Jack Trice Stadium.


Student health and wellness is hosting the first "Cardinal and Goal'd" tailgate, beginning three hours before the 6:30 p.m. kickoff on the south lawn of the Alumni Center. It will feature many tailgate staples like food, fun and games -- but without alcohol and other substances.

Tailgating is a time when people express school spirit, which student wellness health promotion coordinator Ryan Doyle wants all students to be able to do. But it can be triggering for those in substance recovery or a time of first experience with substance use, he said. The tailgate serves as a place to meet others who share similar views about substance use, and students can sign up for information on other substance-free events on campus.

"We hope it will be a safe place where students, faculty, staff and others not interested in being around alcohol or those using it can come enjoy some of that game day spirit," Doyle said.

All first-year and transfer students complete the AlcoholEdu program in Canvas.

"Between last year and this year we had north of 3,500 students who said they wanted to be contacted about substance-free events at the school," he noted.

The first 100 attendees will receive a free T-shirt, ISU Recreation Services will provide several tailgate games and Hy-Vee is catering hors d'oeuvres with vegetarian and vegan options. Students are encouraged to walk to the event or take the CyRide Blue No. 3 route to the C.Y. Stephens or Jack Trice Stadium stops. Individuals cannot bring their own food or drink onto Alumni Center property.

Looking ahead

Success is getting students to the tailgate and listening to their feedback, Doyle said. Saturday will be the lone substance-free tailgate this year, but he would like to grow it by involving more departments across campus and having different groups sponsor each home football date.

Iowa State is not alone among universities across the nation developing substance-free options for football games. Collaborating with other colleges could lead to similar options when Cyclone fans travel for away contests, Doyle said.

"Right now, there are about 144 colleges, including Iowa State and Iowa, that have collegiate recovery programs," Doyle said. "I would say more than half have either recovery-focused celebrations or they contribute toward having game day celebrations."