2004 Tailgate Shooting

Tony Caravano and Will Quick recall student government's response the 2004 shooting death of two people at the NC State tailgating lot.

Interview on 2011-11-04


00:00:00.000 Tony Caravano: Yeah. That's the biggest piece that I probably carry with me from that administration.
00:00:08.660 We've already talked about how tailgating is a cultural piece of what we do at NC State.
00:00:17.193 Military men were shot, which added another layer to the shooting. Our reputation was on the line.
00:00:31.312 They weren't NC State students but they were on our lot
00:00:34.406 and there was a really interesting call from-. Administrators wanted to do what I understand they wanted to do.
00:00:41.623 They wanted to shut it down and tighten up and make sure this didn't happen again because nationally we were being watched.
00:00:46.860 Our alumni and our students were really not in line with that idea so we had to be really delicate. We had to make sure that we were respecting the families that lost loved ones.
00:00:59.011 We had to respect the people who were in the area who experienced it and saw it.
00:01:06.291 We also had to respect the people who had been tailgating safely and responsibly for decades.
00:01:13.692 Tony Caravano: So we went to see-.Will Quick: It was Bob Barnhardt at the time.Tony Caravano: Yeah, it was Bob Barnhardt, he was our interim chancellor,
00:01:22.233 and spoke with him. Lennie Barton, the president of the alumni association, was there as well,
00:01:28.561 Dr. Stafford was there, and we negotiated with them on some hours for tailgating and some rules for tailgating that were going to be put down to like one or two,
00:01:40.106 so I think that's one of the places where we did a good job negotiating. I'll pat us on the back, we did a great job negotiating,
00:01:48.938 but it was really tough emotionally. The other piece on that is that Ohio State was coming the very next week for the game and-.
00:01:56.146 Will Quick: Huge game. [Laughs]Tony Caravano: It's a huge game but they also bring the most fans. They travel so well, so they're going to be in-.Will Quick: It's the vet school lot out there.
00:02:07.559 Tony Caravano: Yeah, they're on the fairgrounds, they have their own event going on,
00:02:10.061 so we actually went over to their tailgate and took a ton of students and we escorted them to make sure that they knew that it was a safe place, that it was a loving place, and we just wanted to have fun, just like they did.
00:02:22.305 I got up, spoke with their Heisman Trophy winner, Archie Griffin, who's the president of their alumni association,
00:02:29.455 welcomed them to NC State, just let them know that we were excited that they were here, looking forward to a good game,
00:02:34.949 and let them know that we were here to walk them through our stadium and that folks were going to greet them warmly, and our fans did that.
00:02:41.330 Our fans responded really, really well, as I had no doubt that they would.
00:02:45.545 But emotionally that had a huge impact on me I know because there was so much going on in that two-week period.
00:02:52.827 Will Quick: Yeah, and I echo everything Tony said about what happened sort of in the immediate time period, the meetings and the high stress,
00:03:02.293 but that certainly influenced me going forward because we continued to look for ways to improve and make tailgating fun but safe.
00:03:15.285 So we implemented-. At the point the shooting happened the fairgrounds lot was just sort of an open free-for-all and anyone was welcome to come in.
00:03:28.974 We backed that out a little bit to where it was more student oriented so it was the students' place where students felt that they had-.
00:03:37.974 You don't feel like you're going to have to worry about so much the parent next to you or if you're having a good time and you're having your loud music and whatever you want to do.
00:03:53.981 So we sort of backed that out to where it was just the students in that area and made it their area, but by doing that we gave them responsibility for it.
00:04:02.813 So we said this is your area but you've got to be responsible in policing it and you've got to be responsible in making sure that if the people next to you are getting out of hand you need to say something about it.
00:04:14.422 A couple years later the campus police and IFC-the inter-fraternity council-and my administration sort of worked closely together to have those fraternities take a role.
00:04:29.486 Traditionally they were some of the groups who had been some of the worst in breaking some of the rules and in having parties that were out of hand and that kind of thing,
00:04:37.457 and I was in that community, and we asked them to take a role in being an image for everybody else, be a role model for all the other students that are tailgating here.
00:04:50.929 So now you go in and that front row of the fairgrounds lot are all the fraternities
00:04:59.769 and they generally have pretty clean tailgates comparatively, cleaner than it was years ago, and they try to present a little better image that I think sort of washes through to the rest of the fairgrounds lot.