Every fall during the Nebraska football season, hundreds of University of Nebraska-Lincoln students gather in the backyards of houses in the North Bottoms to drink and party before heading to Memorial Stadium.
Behind makeshift fences built out of tarps and stakes, the tailgaters smoke cigarettes and sip cheap vodka hidden from neighbors on the outside. However, these parties are not as well hidden as they attempt to be, considering some of them are shut down by law enforcement.
During the 2017 Nebraska football season, at least 54 parties in the Lincoln area were forced to evacuate on game days by Nebraska police. Twenty of those parties occurred in the North Bottoms.
At least a quarter of these parties were tailgates thrown by UNL fraternities in the backyards of houses in the North Bottoms.
While many of the parties are said to be thrown in houses that are occupied by active fraternity members, some fraternities have resorted to asking mutual friends, or even random strangers, to rent out their yard for a day.
When it comes to putting together the parties,the fraternity members, if they plan on going, chip in $10-20 in exchange for a wristband.
According to UNL junior advertising and public relations major and former member of Phi Delta Theta Jake Polesky, women can always get into the parties for free. Men outside of the fraternity, due to security reasons, usually have to pay a fee, or, depending on the house, are not allowed in at all.
“It’s usually just one fraternity of guys, so it’s all brothers, and if some random dude shows up, or a girl brings a guy, it’s like, ‘Who is this guy?’” Polesky said. “And it just promotes girls coming to the parties, too.”
One of the larger and more notable tailgates that occurred during this past football season took place on Sept. 2, 2017, during the season opener against Arkansas State. The party was held on the property of North Bottoms residentand UNL alumnus Mike Morosin.
Morosin, who said he has rented out his property before, was approached by a UNL student. The student used a fake name and asked if his fraternity could use his property for a tailgate.
The Daily Nebraskan could not confirm which fraternity asked to use Morosin’s property because the items left were traced back to several fraternities. After questioning the student about security measures and if there would be port-a-potties, Morosin agreed to a $500 rental fee.
“They come out, one of the guys and [they’d] say ‘We’re going to have security, we’re going to pay for security, we’re going to have port-apotties there, we’re going to make sure that everybody’s 21 or older,’” Morosin said.
Because the fraternity member made Morosin believe everything was under control, he left his property for most of the afternoon. When he came back, Morosin discovered the fraternity had misled him about security measures.
“When I came back, there was a mass of humanity there,” Morosin said, “and so I started noticing the security they had there really wasn't security. It was just a couple guys that were acting like security, so I started, you know, [telling people], ‘You gotta show your ID.’”
Once Morosin started carding and shutting the party down, the police showed up. As the owner of the property, Morosin received a ticket for maintaining a disorderly house and a $500 fine.
After receiving the ticket, Morosin said he believed the fraternity responsible for throwing the party should pay for his ticket. At first, the fraternity members agreed to pay the fine and for any damages that may have occurred during the party.
More than six months later, after attempting to contact the members twice, Morosin said he has yet to be contacted or paid back.
Morosin also said the damage to his property during the party will cost him at least $300. He said he will have to pay to have his yard re-seeded due to dead grass from the party, which involved partiers urinating and pouring drinks on the grass. Morosin said he has to remove a tree that was destroyed and replace window well covers around his property that people stepped on and broke.
The afternoon before the party occurred, Morosin's neighbor Mike Lampkin said the same fraternity member asked his permission to use the property next to him for $500. Because he did not own the property, Lampkin turned them down, but referred the member over to Morosin.
Throughout the party, Lampkin said there were people passed out on Morosin’s next door property,and that a group of girls came to his house asking to use the restroom. Lampkin said he allowed the girls to come in, and he gave them crackers and cool towels to help sober them up.
Even though the party was called in as a disturbance, Lampkin said the party wasn’t necessarily too loud or out of control, but that there were too many people in attendance.
Still, Lampkin is among many Lincoln and North Bottoms residents who believe the party culture in the North Bottoms is getting out of control.
But Polesky and other UNL students believe the parties are not getting out of control, but rather the police are just cracking down too hard.
“Kids are going to party and as long as they’re safe about it, I don’t really think they need to be policing us so hard,” Polesky said. “I definitely agree that it can get out of hand, but overall I think it’s going to happen anyway.”
On Sept. 16, 2017, a similar party was reportedly thrown by the same fraternity members at 1014 Claremont St. But this party was different from Morosin’s. The property where the party was thrown is occupied by students, and it was so out of control it made local news.
- Jake Polesky, former member of Phi Delta Theta
Out of the 20 parties called in from the North Bottoms during the 2017 football season, seven had incident reports filed, five of which can be tied back to UNL fraternities.
The Daily Nebraskan obtained the police reports that tied back to the fraternities and reached out to each chapter and member for comment.
A police report was filed on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, at 4:27 p.m. at 1132 Charleston St.
The report listed Bryce Brockman, a member of fraternity Delta Tau Delta. The president of the fraternity did not respond to The Daily Nebraskan’s request for a comment.
A police report was filed on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, at 5 p.m. at 1500 N 15th St.
The report listed Jake Polesky, a former member of fraternity Phi Delta Theta. The president of the fraternity did not respond to The Daily Nebraskan’s request for a comment.
A police report was filed on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, between 8 and 9:48 a.m. at 1234 Claremont St.
The report listed Connor McCoy and Colin Forke, both from fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha. The president of the fraternity did not respond to The Daily Nebraskan’s request for a comment.
A police report was filed on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, between 11:30 a.m. and 12:18 p.m. at 1102 Charleston St.
The report listed Mark Weiers, a member of fraternity Theta Xi. The president of the fraternity did not respond to The Daily Nebraskan’s request for a comment.
A police report was filed on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, between 12:30 and 1:09 p.m. at 730 Y St.
The report listed Scott Edward Wuster Jr. and Connor Devish, both members of fraternity Pi Kappa Phi. The president of the fraternity did not respond to The Daily Nebraskan’s request for a comment.
While the number of parties called in during the 2017 season may seem like a lot, it is only a small fraction of the total number of parties called in during every Nebraska football season since 2007.
The Daily Nebraskan collected data from the past 11 football seasons and discovered over 900 parties were shut down during those 10 years. Only 124 of those parties actually occurred in the North Bottoms.
Despite only making up 14 percent of the 900 parties shut down, the number of parties occuring in the North Bottoms has fluctuated slightly, but increased since 2007. As for the overall amount of parties getting busted in the Lincoln area, those numbers have fluctuated, too, but decreased significantly since 2007.
Compared to the 154 parties shut down in 2007,only 32 reported parties were cleared by police in 2015. In the North Bottoms, only two parties were reported to be shut down in 2008. 2017 had the most with 20.
Out of those 10 years, the most steady increase of North Bottoms parties occurred between the 2014 and 2017 seasons. Only seven out of 49 parties called in during the 2014 season occurred there. But these seasons also occurred after the Indian Center, located at 1100 Military Road in the North Bottoms, enforced a banon tailgates.
Prior to being shut down, most students, especially those who were underage, would pay a $5 walkinfee and $15 for a vehicle to attend tailgates thrown at the Indian Center.
But on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014, during the game against Miami, one party got out of hand and proved to be the last straw for the Indian Center.
The following Tuesday, Sept. 23, the Indian Centersent out a press release on Facebook announcingit would no longer allow the presence of alcohol or drugs on its property.
It was reported that during the party, tailgaters threw bottles and cans at three buses that made their way onto the property. Later on, when the police showed up, those at the party began throwing cans and bottles again, resulting in one of the cans striking an officer in the head.
In an article published by The Daily Nebraskan on Oct. 27, 2014, students expressed their concerns about underage drinkers possibly moving to drink at tailgates in the North Bottoms after the Indian Center was shut down.
Some students claimed drinking outside of the Indian Center would be more dangerous for students because it would not be contained in one area. Others said they were worried about having so many students packed into the small backyards of the North Bottoms.
But these concerns do not come without reason. Most of the police reports filed after North Bottoms parties were shut down listed the calls under “Disturbance - Wild Party.”
With many tailgaters spilling out of the fences from parties, police had to ticket several of those involved with citations such as maintaining a disorderly house, like Morosin, or inmate of a disorderly house.
While some UNL students have expressed concern over the amount of police presence in the North Bottoms, according to Lincoln Police Capt. Todd Kocian, the Lincoln Police Department hasn’t been doing anything different over the last few years.
Instead, he believes more students are bringing attention to the parties,especially when there is an event like a football game occuring on the same day.
“From my experience, when there are reasons to gather, more people will,” Kocian said. “They sure bring more publicity to them.”