Can Penn Students Have Fun?

Tailgate? Is that like Watergate?

Pity those poor Penn kids. Even when you hand them fun on a skewer, they’re clueless. They have their noses stuck too far inside anatomy and political science textbooks to do what college students are supposed to do, which is get out to Franklin Field and root, root, root for a home team that started the season ranked 23rd in the nation in its division and only lost to number-one-ranked Villanova in a last-minute squeaker. Faced with miles and miles of empty seats showing up on national TV, Penn’s athletic department has resorted to bribery: It’s attempting to institute a tailgating tradition, according to the student newspaper, the Daily Pennsylvanian, to woo students into attending games. Hey, kids! Free food![SIGNUP]

But the first pre-game barbecue, held in late September, was marred by one major problem: attendees who gladly gobbled the goodies, then went straight back to their rooms to study. (We said they were clueless; we didn’t say they were dumb.) Former team QB John Hurley, who’s now a junior and helped organize the event, told the DP the situation would be dealt with; Penn planned to extend the bait to t-shirts and Penn Football cups for those who actually pass through the Franklin Field gates to the games. “It’s an opportunity for basically the biggest party on Penn’s campus every week,” Hurley said. Well. For whatever that’s worth.

It can’t help that Penn senior Pranav Merchant last month penned an opinion piece for the Inquirer bemoaning the tragic waste of white-bread toast that occurs during football games at Toast Toss. This slice of tradition stems from the ’70s, when the school outlawed liquor at Franklin Field and students had to cast about for something to replace the raising of flasks that used to accompany the last line of venerable school anthem “Drink a Highball.” (“Here’s a toast … to dear old Penn.”) Solution? Hurl bread onto the field. Merchant wrote that the Toast Toss “suggests that Penn students are spoiled brats who are fundamentally out of touch with Philadelphia’s poverty,” and pleaded for an end to students and alums “squandering food in this ridiculous tradition.” Penn brass countered that the bread collected post-toast (it’s swept up by the school’s Toast Zamboni, a standard turf-cleaner adapted by Penn engineering students) gets composted by the university, and that Penn’s donations to hunger-related charities far outstrip the few hundred bucks spent on the bread—which, by the way, is required to be official Toast Toss bread, made available to spectators at the stadium in order to curtail free-form flinging of other, unauthorized baked goods.

That’s Penn, synonymous with “fun.” Good luck with the tailgating, dudes.