LSU Students Upgrade Tailgating

LSU is teaching students how to be more creative at tailgating — as part of a class. But before parents go through the roof wondering whether some of the tuition they’re paying is being used to improve their children’s tailgating skills — which most parents probably don’t think their children need — they should know the whole story.

Tailgating on the LSU Campus was the theme of the Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture’s Design Week, an annual event at the university.“We’re fascinated by this amazing cultural phenomenon, and it’s not something typically studied from a designer’s perspective,” said Kristi Dykema, an associate professor of landscape architecture and one of the organizers of the event.“We want to look at how it might be transformed if designers had their hands in it,” she said.

About 120 students, from sophomores to graduate students in the School of Landscape Architecture, participated in the five-day symposium, Dykema said. Four nationally recognized designers were brought in from New York to California to teach daily workshops and at the end of their daily lectures, teams of four to seven students had to complete a project based on the lecture, Dykema said. The daily projects ranged from designing a wearable piece that showed an aspect of tailgating — which included a runway show — to designing and building a portable tailgating product and then filming a short advertisement to market the product, Dykema said. The teams were judged for all of the projects they completed throughout the week. (The results of the judging were not available by press time Friday.)The students addressed such problems as waste management, designed ways to utilize unused space, and even focused on what police endure during a massive tailgating event.

Ivan Valin, a landscape architect with Tom Leader Studio in Berkeley, Calif., and one of the four national landscape architects and judges, said he was impressed with how much fun the students had with the projects.“They’ve had to work really hard,” he said of the teams.“And a lot of the projects weren’t just about landscape architecture, Valin added. “The students had to think outside of their field and try to solve problems from a different approach.”The student teams only had 20 to 24 hours to finish their last project, which was creating the tailgating product and then filming the advertisement, Dykema said.

“We knew the prototypes were going to be rough,” she said. Brennan Dedon, 20, a junior from Central, said his team’s theme for the daily projects was being a “nomad tailgater.”Their team’s “wearable project” was a pair of shorts, made out of duct tape but painted appropriately purple with a yellow belt. The shorts had a flat piece of wood built into the backside of the shorts to be used as a seat. A strap connected to the shorts was used as a strap to carry the shorts when they weren’t being worn. Once the shorts were put on, a tiger’s tail (which was a pole) flipped down and turned the shorts into a stand.“When you put your feet down, you created a tripod so you could sit down pretty easily,” Dedon said. “It kept with the nomad theme because with the shorts you move around and sit wherever you wanted.”

And for their product, the team created Party on the Geaux.“We kept with our theme of nomads without a tailgating home base,” Dodon said. Party on the Geaux had one team member who was a disc jockey and wore a computer that sat in a box that had a strap he wore around his neck and he provided music. The apparatus looked much like what baseball park hotdog sellers wear when working in stadiums. Another team member wore a strobe light; while another had a “cage over him” and served as the “go-go dancer;” while yet another member carried a spinning disco ball on a stick.“This is how we were going to infiltrate other tailgaters and gain their acceptance,” Dodon said.“We would supply the party and they would supply the food and drink,” Dodon said. Dykema said she was pleased with all of the students’ efforts.“It really was a great opportunity for our students,” she said. “They really took what they saw tailgaters doing, stepped back and came up with some innovative ideas.“And at the same time, they injected their own personalities in the projects,” she said.