Tailgating Helps Law Students Bond, Relax Outside of Class

Monday through Friday, the students of the LSU Law Center prepare for a future as an upstanding member of the legal community, listening to lectures, poring over notes and old reference books, and debating the finer points of common law versus civil law.

But on Saturdays during football season, all that is forgotten. It’s a time for relaxing, for bonding, and for singing Hank Williams, Jr. songs in as many keys as possible.

Outside of the Law Center library, one of the more popular places for students to commune is at a tailgate, and one of the larger ones is the LSU Law Tailgating Club. The club is made up of first- and second-year students and requires a yearly fee that pays for all food and drinks. Perhaps you have noticed the 25-foot high inflatable, purple and gold checkered tent on the Parade Ground—that would be them. They also have a 20×20 tent and two smaller 10×10 tents for serving food and playing music. Lest you mistake this for some idle way of passing the time on a Saturday, think again. The club has even secured free energy drinks from Wildlife Energy Drinks.

“At freshman orientation, I sat out in a booth with a ‘LSU Law Tailgating Club’ sign in front—a club, which at the time did not exist—and we charged members a season fee payable up front,” said Gibson T. Laborde, a 2L student. “It is without a doubt a team effort and it has been a huge success.”

Within the miniature tent city that is the Tailgating Club, there is a satellite television hookup, a speaker system and a menu that is only short of a free angioplasty. Hamburgers, pulled chicken, homemade chili, chicken and sausage jambalaya, roasted pork, and “Louisiana Cheese Steak,” which is essentially steak marinated in sweet tea. It is no wonder that, aside from law students, a few dignitaries have found their way into the tents.

“During the political campaigns, candidates would always come to our tent because it was the largest on the Parade Ground. Mary Landrieu and Kitty Kimball are two that stick out,” said Scott Sternberg, a 2L student. “Also, after the tailgates have been going for a while, one of our classmates, who shall remain nameless, likes to put on Hank Williams, Jr. and sing along. When they turn the stereo into a karaoke machine, you know that people are having way too much fun.”

Kyle McCotter, a 2L student and member of the Tailgating Club, estimates that there were between 300 and 400 people at their tailgate for LSU’s game against the University of Georgia. As 2L students, the group invited 1Ls to join the Club as a way of getting to know them and help acclimate the new students to the Law Center community. As 3Ls next year, McCotter said they plan to invite 1Ls again, continuing the growth of the Club and the Law Center student community.

Mike Marino, a 3L student, is part of a smaller, yet equally entertaining tailgating group. Marino said the group started their own tailgate this year after having been part of others the last two years. They decided to keep the group small—roughly 40 people—and made up of close friends.

The menu varies from game to game, although sausage is a staple—Emeril’s Chicken and Apple is the best Marino says. One week it’s 16 pounds of pork tenderloin, the next its 100 pounds of boiled shrimp. And then there’s the game of cornhole.

For those unfamiliar with the game, there are holes placed in two wooden or plastic boards that are about 20 feet apart and the object is to throw beanbags into the hole and get points depending on if you make it or how close you come.

“It’s good to tailgate with friends from law school for a variety of reasons,” Marino said. “One of the most relaxing aspects is that we get to spend time together on campus without being stressed out about law school. It’s often true that when we get together on campus we don’t get to enjoy many of the best features such as the beauty and relaxed atmosphere. Tailgating is one way of accomplishing this.”