Thirsty? The buzz on campus

Noah Brown

SDSU might not remain a completely dry campus in the future.

The Students’ Association passed a resolution on Feb. 27 requesting that administration to take another look at allowing alcohol in upperclassman housing — something USD will be implementing next fall.

The resolution claimed the restriction of alcohol for upperclassmen is a major driving force of students moving off campus. Passing the resolution allows a discussion to begin, which may one day result in permitting alcohol in Meadows North and South.

The resolution cited eight of 12 peer institutions that have a similar policy in place, one of which is USD. USD recently received the OK from the South Dakota Board of Regents to allow alcohol in Coyote Village and McFadden Hall — both are apartment-style housing similar to Meadows North and South — allowing students 21 and older to drink freely inside their rooms.

Like SDSU, USD is a dry campus, meaning no alcohol is allowed on campus grounds. There are exceptions to the rule, such as some events at SDSU that get special permission from President David Chicoine. The policy under discussion would be another type of exception. If it happens this will be the first time students will be allowed to legally have a drink in the residence halls since the dry-campus policy has been in place.

For USD, it is a new experiment aimed toward keeping upperclassmen on campus longer.

“I think it is definitely a good idea,” said Annie Weberg, a freshman at USD. “It at least gives more options than just living off campus.”

Phil Covington, associate dean of students at USD, said student input was very influential in the decision. The policy especially has graduate students and married couples on campus in mind because many are of the legal drinking age.

As USD works to keep students on campus, SDSU is facing the opposite problem. As of 2010-2011 there was an undergraduate enrollment of 11,062 and a residence hall capacity of 3,573. Overcrowding in the dorms has forced residential life to resort to placing students in day rooms, which are supposed to be used as a place to study and relax.

Although SA is pushing for the same outcome USD has seen, they stated different reasons. SDSU’s resolution is aimed to eventually help segregate the upperclassmen to one side of campus and the first- and second-year students to the other.

The resolution claimed the restriction of alcohol drives students off campus. Living on campus has been linked to increased student success in terms of graduation rates, according to the resolution, so having a place for upperclassmen where alcohol is allowed may keep them on campus longer. SA President Mark York was one of the sponsors of the bill promoting the discussion, which passed unanimously.

“From the alumni I have talked to, staying on campus as an upperclassman was a very positive experience,” York said.

Marysz Rames, vice president of Student Affairs, said this would not be the last time the topic is addressed.

“What I heard from the Senate (Monday night) was good,” Rames said. “It started a discussion that can be continued when we have the space.”

Some students are not so keen on the idea of allowing alcohol on campus.

“If anything these new rules would encourage me to live off campus,” said Marie Olsen, a 21-year-old senior general agriculture major. “They could encourage a more rowdy environment, and would be hard to enforce.”