Student Union’s first Game Day event sees turnout of around 400

Andrew Celli | Contributing Reporter

Student Union hosted its first Game Day event, an all-day experience designed to foster school spirit and bring a more traditional college sports atmosphere to Washington University, Saturday.

The event was organized by SU in partnership with the Congress of the South 40, Social Programming Board, First Year Class Council, Student-Athlete Advisory Council, Interfraternity Council and the Women’s Panhellenic Association. The program included a tailgate in the Simon Hall parking lot, which approximately 400 people attended.

Students mill about at Student Union’s Game Day event Saturday morning. The new event, hosted in conjunction with Greek organizations on campus, drew around 400 participants.Zachary Berman

Students mill about at Student Union’s Game Day event Saturday morning. The new event, hosted in conjunction with Greek organizations on campus, drew around 400 participants.

The tailgate featured two student DJs, catering by Raising Cane’s Chicken, beer for those over 21 and a friendly cornhole competition. After the tailgate, the Washington University Bears football team had their last home game and defeated Bridgewater College 41-7. Game Day concluded with a formal dance, held in the Knight Center.

According to freshman Olivia Prunier Herman, the event addressed much of the disconnect between Washington University athletics and the general student body.

“I knew, coming in, that Wash. U. wouldn’t have a rah-rah sports culture, even though I think we have spirit in our own way,” Herman said. “I’m happy that the University is realizing that there was a lack of a school spirit surrounding sports…It’s exciting that the University was able to put this together.”

Student Union Vice President of Programming and junior Kyle Jeter, who acted as the main organizer for the event, was pleased with the success of the day.

“A lot of people hope for school spirit, but I haven’t seen it realized,” Jeter said. “This is the first time I have seen something of this magnitude…We have proven there is a way to have school spirit at Wash. U.”

Students stand in line in the Simon parking lot before the Bears’ football game Saturday. The event included free food, as well as free alcohol for those aged over 21.  Zachary Berman

Students stand in line in the Simon parking lot before the Bears’ football game Saturday. The event included free food, as well as free alcohol for those aged over 21.

According to Andrew Sweren, a junior who has come to every home football game in the last three years, Game Day was a new experience.

“[Game Day] is unlike anything I have ever seen at these [football] games,” Sweren said. “Honestly, it is so good to see this. I have been to so many games where the student section is nearly empty. But to see turnout like this, it means a lot.”

According to Washington University cheerleader and sophomore Erin McLaughlin, Game Day also had a positive impact on members of the University’s athletic department.

“It is really cool that everyone is out here today. I wish it would happen every week,” McLaughlin said. “[Game Day] definitely gets us very excited to go out there and cheer for the Bears.”

Although SU helped host the event, Greek organizations on campus played an essential role in organizing the Game Day. A large percentage of attendees at the tailgate and football game were members of Greek life.

“Our biggest role in this was getting people to the event,” junior Ben Schulman, the president of Washington University’s Interfraternity Council, said. “It was great opportunity for people from all over this school to come together as a community and have a good time.”

Freshman and First-Year Class president Spencer Stewart, who ran on a platform of tailgates, believes that Game Day festivities should become commonplace at the University.

“I hope that everyone liked Game Day so much that we can do it every big game. I would love to get fans out here for women’s soccer’s next home games and during the spring sports season,” Stewart said.

According to Jeter, SU doesn’t plan to host another Game Day this year, however.

“My guess is that, at least this year, we won’t be able to have another [Game Day] because of funding,” Jeter said. “We’d have to figure out, budget-wise, how to make this more sustainable.”

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect the proper spelling of Spencer Stewart’s last name. This article has also been updated to reflect that Social Programming Board, First Year Class Council and Student-Athlete Advisory Council were involved in the event.