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Berginski: Alcohol should not be sold at college games

By Staff | Apr 2, 2015

Two student government hopefuls at North Dakota State University want to change a long-standing policy: they want alcohol to be able to be sold at Bison games.

Now I will admit, I wanted a drink after that way too-close-for-comfort FCS championship football game between the Bison and the Illinois State Redbirds, but I digress. (Not to mention I haven’t been a college student for almost three years, but that is also beside the point.) The idea that we should allow alcohol to be sold at sporting events on college campuses is a bad idea, and for a number of reasons.

Allow me, if you will, to quote sections from NDSU’s campus policies, particularly section 155 or its drug & alcohol policy.

Subsection 2: “The University prohibits the unlawful or unauthorized use, possession, storage, manufacture, distribution or sale of alcoholic beverages and any illicit drugs or drug paraphernalia in University buildings, any public campus area, in University housing units, in University vehicles or at any University affiliated events held on or off-campus, which are sponsored by students, employees and their respective campus organizations (including all fraternities and sororities).”

Subsection 4.2: “Sale of alcoholic beverages by students, employees and their respective campus organizations is strictly forbidden. This is to include any action that can be remotely construed as alcohol sale such as charging admission to parties, passing the hat, selling empty cups, selling drink tickets, etc.”

Subsection 4.4: “University-sponsored events that are held at locations off-campus, and at which alcohol may be present, are required to adhere to this policy. In addition, if alcohol will be served at the event, the sponsor(s) of the event should ensure compliance with N.D.C.C 5-02-06(4) regarding individuals under 21 years of age at events where alcohol is served. Sponsors need to be aware of both potential civil and criminal liability for knowingly serving alcohol to minors or obviously intoxicated persons (N.D.C.C. 5-01-06.1, 5-01-09)…”

NDSU has this policy in part because the State Board of Higher Education prohibits the sale, use, dispensation, etc. of alcoholic beverages on the 11 college and university campuses it’s in charge of. The rules are also there to keep students and campus visitors safe, and because colleges want to have reputations as places for learning, not for students getting black-out drunk and making poor decisions that could hurt themselves or others. Why should NDSU be the exception to the rule when there are 10 other campuses that have to adhere to a dry campus policy? If you change the rules for one, the rule has to be changed for all, otherwise what good are the rules?

Those who want this think alcohol consumption can be controlled if it’s sold on campus; that it could supposedly curtail people getting a good buzz on beforehand. (And of course they see it as a potential revenue stream.) Fair enough. But if people think beer or any other alcoholic beverage is expensive at the game, they’ll “pregame” somewhere else and for cheaper – even if that somewhere else is a car ride away, which is a whole ‘nother issue in and of itself. And there are always the issues that rear their ugly heads: minors getting a hold of alcohol, people being served more alcohol than they should have, people engaging in fisticuffs or risky behaviors.

The timing of the idea is very poor too. Right now in Grand Forks there’s a big push for what’s called a “social detox center”. Some say it could be a boon for the University of North Dakota, and they are also trying to shed the stigma regarding college and alcohol misuse.

Yes, cold ones and football go hand-in-hand, but so do liability issues and poor judgment. Combine that with the times our state colleges and universities are in today, and selling alcohol at collegiate sporting events is a terrible idea.

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