Regents need to OK alcohol sales for college gameday

Brandon Frizzell, Opinion Reporter

The Students’ Association will soon be considering a resolution to encourage the Board of Regents to change the policy on alcohol sales in athletic venues. Mirroring resolutions will be submitted to each of the student associations across the state.

South Dakota Codified Law 35-2-6.1 restricts the sale of alcoholic beverages at Regental Universities with exceptions for “periodic retail sale of malt beverages or wine for consumption on-site at a location and time, authorized by the Board of Regents, that involves the performing arts, intercollegiate athletics, fundraising, a reception, a conference, or an occasional or scheduled event at a facility used for performing arts, intercollegiate athletics, events, or receptions.” 

Furthermore, South Dakota Board of Regents policy 6:14 further restricts alcoholic beverages at athletic events by only allowing alcohol sales in “box suite and lounge areas.”  

I believe expanding the sale of alcohol in athletics and performing arts venues will positively impact the student experience. This policy change will immediately create a more vibrant atmosphere with more students attending and staying longer at home athletics and performing arts events. 

In addition, studies show that alcohol-related incidents and binge drinking decrease when there is an option to consume alcohol inside the venue with a no re-entry policy. For example, following West Virginia University’s first football season selling beer in the stadium to the general public, WVU’s Police Chief stated he believed the intent of the plan worked, noting that the police department had made more arrests during one game the previous year than the entire season when beer was sold in the stadium and there was a no re-entry policy. 

The safest place for a student is on campus. Campus culture is safe, responsible and monitored. Students that are not in the safety of campus may be exposed to a more dangerous setting of drugs, alcohol and other risks. The safety of campus venues eliminates drugs and promotes a safe drinking culture where overserving is not allowed or tolerated. Any violent or unsafe behavior can be swiftly met by security and/or law enforcement. We do not want large parties in a basement, where unsafe behavior tends to take place and security is not found.

In the 2015 Board of Regents task force that studied changing alcohol policies on campus, Aramark stated that per capita spending essentially doubles where venues initiate alcohol sales. SDSU had an income of nearly $210,000 from concessions in fiscal year 19. Only time will tell what the actual number of students and visitors attending these events with limited alcohol-related incidents might be, but any increase would be considered self-generated revenue and alleviate the athletics department from asking for additional student fees in the future. Additionally, this would bring back young alumni, keep them connected on campus and maintain enthusiasm in support of the Jackrabbit brand.

Lastly, since the opening of the Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium, the university has proven it can successfully manage large events that sell alcohol with the Luke Bryan and Zac Brown Band concerts. Consumption of alcohol is likely significantly less at an athletics event compared to a concert. 

Please encourage your student representatives to vote for this issue.