UCF Greek life panics after rumors of Lake Claire closing tailgates, Student body president says

UCF's RWC closes off the Lake Claire grass area after past tailgates left the area a mess. Students in Greek life were worried that their tailgate spot would be taken away, but a statement released by Student Government President Kyler Gray on Oct. 2 confirmed that the spot is still there for Greek life tailgates. 

On football game-days, the Lake Claire area is filled with Greek life students tailgating, but recently there was worry those days will end.

Scott Mauro, recreation and wellness marketing and communications manager, said there have been some recent incidents of Greek organizations leaving Lake Claire a mess after tailgates.  

“We are currently reviewing a couple of really bad incidents and they were so bad they had to close the grass at Lake Claire this week,” Mauro said.

All of the grass surrounding Lake Claire had caution tape around it a week ago and was closed off to everyone following the mess left from the last tailgate.

A screenshot of an email from the Recreation and Wellness Center to an Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity member was sent around to many different Greek student group chats.

The email told the fraternity that its Lake Claire reservation was cancelled due to violations during a previous tailgate.

What people who saw the screenshot did not understand was that the email was referring to a future Lake Claire reservation that had nothing to do with game-day tailgates.

Students thought the email meant that Greeks were no longer allowed to tailgate at Lake Claire on game days.

One fraternity member, John Wiechart, even made a petition on  to bring back Greek tailgates at Lake Claire.

The petition went viral and over 2,000 people signed it in just a few hours.

Student Body President Kyler Gray said when he first saw the email he thought the tailgates were cancelled.

“Based off my interpretation [of the screenshot], I thought it was true at first and I think that's where the confusion laid in,” Gray said.

Gray said he received an enormous amount of phone calls and emails with student concerns about the possibility of Lake Claire closing tailgates.

"There was an outcry from the Greek community," Gray said. "It was a bit steamy in there with the comments that were coming and the overall curiosity if they were true."

Evan Griffiths, the tailgate chair for Phi Delta Theta said Lake Claire has been the only place him and his fraternity has ever tailgated.

"We've always had the number one tailgate on campus," said Griffiths.

Gray wrote an open letter to the student body on Oct. 2 to address the rumor, but Mauro said there was confusion in the story.

“There was definitely a leap taken of what was actually said in the email to what we are actually advocating,” Mauro said.

Mauro assured students that there has been no revocation of Greek life tailgates at Lake Claire. While tailgates are still on, Mauro said that some Greek organizations are still under review.

After student speculation about Greek tailgates being taken away, Gray said he can assure students that won’t happen under his tenure.

Gray said he has backup tailgate locations in mind for the Greek community if they ever did get pushed out.

He mentioned spots like an open grass field outside of Spectrum Stadium or possibly the grass area where the old Trevor Colbourn Hall once stood. 

“We're going to be putting together various stakeholders for not only in the Greek community, but all of our other university partners to kind of brainstorm and see if Lake Claire is the best place for Greek life," Gray said. "Or if we would be willing to move to another location."

Gray said there are a lot of decisions that would have to be made in order for that to happen.

For now, Greek life is still allowed to tailgate at Lake Claire, although Mauro said the status of a few groups are being reviewed.

"I think that we have two sides of frustration that must be heard," Gray said. "And once we hear those two perspectives I think that we can come to a middle ground."

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