Do any current UCR students remember the beer gardens at the concert series, or the alcohol that was sold out of the Barn only a few years ago? No?
That is likely because of the “dry campus” policy that took effect fairly recently in UCR’s lifespan, banning the sale and consumption of alcohol on campus grounds. Now students can only purchase alcohol at the few exceptions of the Getaway Cafe and some other choice spots in University Village.
While anybody who has attended the concerts of the past few years can attest to the inability for the school to prevent students from drinking (as evidenced by the sobering-up stations and the amount of police patrolling the campus), the alcohol ban begs the question as to whether the school should begin allowing alcohol once more, and if it should, when and where would it be appropriate to sell and consume?
On the whole, yes, there is little to stop the school from selling alcohol in venues, such as sports games and concerts, as many college campuses already turn beer sales into sources of revenue to make up for the costs of maintaining athletics programs. It stands to reason that if other colleges are turning to alcohol sales to boost athletics programs’ funding, that UCR could benefit much the same way.
This may initially appear as a shallow way for the school to turn a controlled substance into a profitable market, but it ends up as much more than that when given a more critical eye.
College students would be hard-pressed to say that their collegiate experiences have had no exposure to drugs and alcohol on one level or another, as one out of every five students imbibes during their studious careers. While there is no shame in drinking on a moderate scale, half of this consumption comes in the form of binge drinking, which itself entails numerous side effects for the one consuming.
In offering these drinks on a more regular basis, and controlling the amount which can be purchased and consumed at any one time, the allure of a forbidden substance and temptation to binge will be greatly curbed, preventing the counter-productive drinking habits that films like “Animal House” and “Van Wilder” have ingrained into the American subconscious. This same concept is the guiding principle for the legalization of many illicit substances, though in this case, the country has already largely accepted that alcohol cannot be eliminated, and has thus opted to control its flow.
If UCR were to allow alcohol consumption on campus, it would even help to curb the alcohol-related crimes perpetrated against those who might otherwise feel that they can only drink before and after events like Heat or Spring Splash.
With the use of beer gardens at these concerts, students wouldn’t necessarily have to pregame events so aggressively, and could instead maintain a buzz with vetted drink servers that could monitor their alcohol consumption and make judgment calls on when an individual has consumed too much.
This option not only makes it so that students could avoid having to get drunk enough for their buzz to not wear off, only to wind up passed out on the lawns, but could also encourage safer drinking practices. Students could see that in controlled settings, drinks would be poured and served in an environment of safety, and that unless they saw the drink poured firsthand, that they shouldn’t be accepting of open drinks.
We acknowledge that drinking isn’t entirely about control, however, and UCR influencing the flow of alcohol could even help students and attendees to events relax. Provided that they keep track of those students of drinking age with the use of wristbands and regular carding, then the sale of beer could even help the environment at the sporting events around campus, as students see them as venues to open themselves up and relax with their friends. After all, isn’t that the American dream?
This is not to say that drinks will be offered wherever there are students, but at those venues for entertainment, athletics and other large gatherings, it would not be unreasonable to make certain arrangements that allow for drinking.
After these events let out, there is even an opportunity for students to show their altruistic sides, as the school can create a new program by which rides are offered to those students who want to drink at school-sponsored events. In the event of such a program’s creation, all that needs to be offered is community service hours and a shining star to be placed upon your curriculum vitae. The money to arrange this program and clean a car if somebody happens to dirty it already exist within the school, so it couldn’t hurt to bring the program into existence, regardless of whether the school decides to sell alcohol.
UCR may wish to promote healthier habits among its students, but this does not necessarily mean that we need to adopt an all-or-nothing stance with regards to consuming alcohol. If following even the most basic of controls, it is possible not only to promote healthy drinking habits, but make a profit too.