USC green-lights limited tailgating for Saturday’s game against Stanford

On-campus tailgating will be allowed at 25 percent capacity, while students are excited yet wary of the shifting COVID restrictions.

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USC Athletic Director Mike Bohn announced on Sept. 8 that on-campus tailgating will be allowed for the upcoming football game against Stanford. The new reservation system will limit on-campus tailgating to 25 percent of the typical game day capacity.

The reversal comes after the university initially banned on-campus tailgating due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although some are skeptical about how COVID restrictions will be enforced at on-campus tailgates — especially after a reported lack of enforcement at the football season’s inaugural game against San Jose State University on Sept. 4 — Wednesday’s game day update came as a pleasant surprise to others eager to experience the game day festivities.

“It definitely makes me way more excited,” said Mitchell Morrison, a sophomore studying business administration. “It’s nice to actually have a real USC experience.”

Saturday will be the first time freshmen, sophomores and some transfer students can experience on-campus tailgating after spending a year and a half semesters online.

According to an Aug. 25 announcement from Bohn, USC banned on-campus tailgating in response to advice from medical experts concerned about COVID-19. This did not deter students from gathering for tailgates off-campus.

“Students are going to do what students are going to do,” said Matthew Donner, a junior studying business administration. “We all saw a lot of unofficial tailgating at the last game.”

The announcement also required fans to wear masks at all times inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, but students who attended the game claim the guideline was loosely enforced.

According to the LA County Department of Public Health’s order, masks are required at “Outdoor Mega Events,” or events with over 10,000 people. Over 54,000 people attended the game at the Coliseum last Saturday, many of whom were unmasked or were wearing masks improperly.

“Did I feel safe? Questionable,” said Alyson Miura, a health and the human sciences major. “I feel safe because I’m vaccinated. If I were to go see my grandma after attending that football game, I think I would have to cancel because there’s no way that I would want the chance of giving [COVID] to her.”

Other students described a lack of social distancing and large crowds.

Kevin Chyung, a senior studying neuroscience, said there was little to no enforcement of COVID guidelines at the Coliseum’s entrance, which made it difficult for students who wanted to keep social distance.

“Most of [the COVID guidelines] were ignored,” Chyung said. “The whole spacing thing with the security that created a lot of bottlenecking getting into the stadium.”

USC Athletics did not respond to Annenberg Media for a comment on this weekend’s COVID protocols at the time of publishing.

The 14th ranked USC Trojans are set to play Pac-12 opponent Stanford Cardinal at the Coliseum this Saturday night.