Student leadership tackles tailgate trash

Aftermath of the Sept. 10 Missouri game at the tailgating lot outside the Peter Recreation Complex. (Carter Schaffer | Collegian Media Group)

After the South Dakota football game on Sept. 3, a now-deleted tweet showing the trash-ridden tailgate lot following the game accumulated over 19,000 views. The tweet gained attention across campus and social media, including a post by Barstool Kansas State and a reply from BigGameBoomer.

“It was definitely eye-opening seeing it on Barstool and BigGameBoomer,” Sam Ward, internal vice president of Acacia fraternity and junior in civil engineering, said. “We were like, ‘Ok, so we need to help contribute to fixing this problem.’”

Kenny Lannou, executive associate athletics director for communications/PR for K-State Athletics, said his staff handles cleanup after games.

“In the disappointing aftermath after Saturday’s game, we will add more trash receptacles to supplement the dumpsters that were there on Saturday,” Lannou wrote in a Sept. 6 email. “We are working with [the Student Governing Association] to address the situation and encourage cooperation from the student campers.”

Josh Kodl, social chair for Kappa Sigma fraternity and sophomore in wildlife fisheries and conservation, said he talked with other greek life social chairs before the Missouri game on Sept. 13 to discuss solutions within their fraternities.

“We’re trying to figure out the best plan right now,” Kodl said. “We really don’t want to lose tailgating. It’s a crucial part of college.”

Kodl said Kappa Sigma brought industrial-size trash bags to the games and used their truck beds to store additional trash. Kodl said he thinks his fraternity has a good plan for keeping their area clean on game day.

“This last tailgate we were right next to a dumpster, so we’d just fill up a trash bag, never let it overfill, throw it in the trash, and break out a new one,” Kodl said. “Hopefully over the next couple weeks we can get this sorted out ourselves before someone has to intervene and sort it out for us ‘cause I don’t think we’ll like the outcome of that.”

Ward said Acacia brought their own trash bags too, but there was little opportunity for those who didn’t bring any to throw stuff away at the South Dakota game. Though it was an unfortunate event, Ward said he thinks things are getting better as people adjust to the new parking lot. 

Tailgating moved from Lot 9 to outside the Peter Recreation Complex because of construction extending the east parking lot at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Parker Vulgamore, student body president and senior in agricultural economics, said. The initiative, spearheaded by Vulgamore,  is a joint effort between SGA, K-State Athletics, the Housing and Dining department and the Rec center.

Vulgamore said he created a task force to have conversations with collaborators about problems and solutions with tailgating, including the parking lot trash.

“We started passing out a little flier and handout with all the parking passes when you pick it up,” Vulgamore said. “And yeah, we were able to better strategically place trash cans.”

Flier handed out to tailgaters when parking passes are picked up. (Courtesy of Parker Vulgamore)

The flier lists tailgating policies — including alcohol policies — and a reminder to “take pride in our campus” by properly disposing of trash.

Ava Perrier, sophomore in animal science, said she tailgated at the South Dakota game and other games last season. She said trash littered the previous Lot 9 tailgating area post-game as well, but worries about tailgating’s future in the new location.

“I don’t feel like it would be that hard for people to just throw their trash away,” Perrier said. “I just think people need to realize we’re gonna get these privileges taken away if we keep leaving such a mess.”

Vulgamore said he wants students to know the parking spots are available to all K-State students.

“The student parking area, it’s not at all just fraternities,” Vulgamore said. “My hope is that more students will start to know about this and they can be even more utilized because it is a ton of fun. It’s a really cool environment.”

I'm Carter Schaffer, the editor-in-chief of the Collegian. Previously I wrote for the news desk and did some photo/video work. I am a senior in mass communications with an emphasis in journalism, and I hope to work in news or video production one day. I've also interned at The Well News in Washington, D.C., through TFAS. I grew up in Andover, Kansas, home of the Andover Trojans, and I've been a Wildcat all my life.