Tailgates to foster future connections for students and alums

Falmouth sophomore Kenton Hornbeck attempts to catch a ball while holding a cup in his mouth during pregame tailgating Thursday on College Heights Boulevard.

Laurel Deppen

Before the big game on Oct. 14, students, their families and alumni are welcome to socialize at several different tailgating tents on South Lawn.

Several different WKU organizations have begun planning for Saturday’s game and the tailgating opportunities that come with it. Many are offering games, food and scholarships, but amidst the fun is a social component that could lead to opportunities in the future.

“Our current students could definitely use this as a networking opportunity with our alumni base,” Caitlin Greenwell, the coordinator of constituent relations at the Manhurin Honors College, said. “I would suggest the students to just strike up conversation.”

The purpose of each tailgating tent is to bring people together in a fun and lighthearted atmosphere.

Blair Jensen, an assistant director in the department of Housing and Residence Life, emphasized the mission of organizations involved in the tailgating tents.

“Mostly the tailgate tent is about just providing opportunities for people to connect or reconnect in some cases …The whole point of it is that you’re continuing to foster a connection.”

Students looking to use this as a networking opportunity are encouraged to come out and meet people, Jensen said.

“It’s not just about opportunities presented to [students] it’s as much about [prepping] a student to take advantage of those opportunities,” Jensen said. “I would want students to feel confident in attending some of the homecoming festivities and not being afraid to introduce themselves to alumni. At heart, you’re all Hilltoppers and if you have nothing else in common, you have that in common. That can be a jumping off point.”

Departments such as Housing and Residence Life and the Honors College are not the only WKU organizations that will have a setup. Several alumni organizations, including the Alumni Association and the Society of African American Alumni are also hosting a tailgate focused on bringing people together.

Colleges including The Gordon Ford College of Business and the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences also have events planned involving food and networking opportunities.

Through the fun and excitement of game-day, students, alumni, faculty and families are encouraged to connect and share their Topper pride.

Reporter Laurel Deppen can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected].