‘We were shoulder to shoulder’: UMass students take to Townehouses Saturday afternoon in lieu of tailgate

Students held their ‘tailgate’ in response to UMass restricting student pre-game events in Lot 11

Collegian+File+Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Sophia Gardner, News Editor

On Saturday morning, students from the University of Massachusetts packed the courtyards of the Townehouse of Amherst Condominiums. Many of those students had planned to spend those same hours in Lot 11, tailgating the first UMass football game of the fall semester.

On Sept. 9, UMass decided to restrict the tailgate to those with valid gameday parking passes in response to an uptick in COVID-19 cases. During the week of Sept. 1-7, UMass recorded 149 total cases among students and employees and a 3.86 percent positivity rate. In response to the cancellation, students coordinated an alternate party at the Townehouses.

“Once we found out that the tailgate was canceled, everyone started posting about the Townehouses, especially on Yik Yak,” said Sophia Vozikis, a senior marketing major and resident of the Townehouses who attended the gathering.

“It was definitely really big, we were shoulder to shoulder,” she said.

The gathering was also prominent on social media.

The ZooMass Instagram account posted a video of the packed area on Saturday with the caption: “They may take our tailgates, but they can never take our freedom! #TheTownhouses.”

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The UMass Amherst Chicks Instagram account posted a similar video of the party, showing a person jumping from what appears to be an air conditioning unit on the second story of one of the Townehouses.

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“I understand why they wanted to cancel it, but they should have known students would find a way to do what they want,” Vozikis said.

“The decision to cancel the campus-organized, student gameday football tailgate on Saturday adjacent to McGuirk Stadium was made by UMass given concerns about students gathering in large numbers in very crowded settings,” University Spokesperson Ed Blaguszewski said in a statement to the Daily Collegian.

Earlier this week, the UMass Amherst Chicks Instagram account posted a picture on their story encouraging students to email University officials, asking them to reinstate the tailgate. “If you want UMass back to our former glory and to remain the best school to ever exist, email the addresses I’ve provided.”

Officials from the Townehouses declined to comment on Saturday’s party.

“There are no public health prohibitions about outdoor gatherings off campus. While nearly the entire UMass community is vaccinated, the University believes we must all take additional steps to protect ourselves and those around us from breakthrough infections,” Blaguszewski said.

“We continue to advise students, whether on or off campus, that while the safest place to gather is outdoors, even there, masks should be worn when social distancing is not possible.”

Sophia Gardner can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @sophieegardnerr.