Tapping Into Alcohol Revenue in College

by: Mike Miller

It may come as a surprise to some of you to know that many of the students I teach in my alcohol awareness classes and minor in possession classes also are taking courses at the local colleges and universities.  Yes, it appears many college-age people wind up getting into alcohol-related trouble.  Drinking alcohol is as symbolic an image of college as textbooks and professors.  Just yesterday Playboy Magazine came out with its annual list of top “party” schools.  This year’s victor – the University of Colorado (Boulder). 

Beer in the Cafeteria

Way back in the day when I was in school (early 1980s), beer was even more prevalent on college campuses than it is today.  Yes, you read that correctly.  My students are often amazed at how out of control alcohol consumption was 30 years ago.  The “rushing” period for fraternities was a month long, with alcohol-binging parties every single night. 

Another amazing note is that beer was served in the cafeteria.  Now even the university had some sense and only served it to students on Friday and Saturday nights.  We used to play quarters for hours every weekend in our university dining hall - crazy times.

Changing of the Guard

Those days have long past and universities have taken to controlling the consumption of alcoholic beverages on their campuses and by their students.   I distinctly remember when the policies at my university changed with the hiring off a new chancellor.  The changes at my prestigious alma mater will live forever in the REM song, ‘The End of the World.”

Universities have come down hard on fraternities and sororities for hazing.  They are more vigilant toward having RAs monitor drinking in dorms.  The administrative offices have put out a strong message that they do not condone the use of alcohol.  Yet, drinking still plays a major role for many collegians.

Money Changes Everything

The NCAA does not allow the consumption of alcohol at sporting events that take place on the college campus.  Even at a big draw tournament like the “Big Dance” (annual NCAA men’s basketball tournament) there is no alcohol served regardless of where the games are played.  The NCAA strictly forbids the sale of alcohol.

But money has come into play.  Universities recognize the revenue they could generate by selling alcohol at their games.  While it may be true that a good percentage of the students attending the games are probably buzzed on alcohol or others drugs, does that mean the university should sell alcohol at these games?

Many universities already sell alcohol at sporting events that take place off campus, while others do not.  With all schools vying for every possible dollar they can get, alcohol sales appears to be a savior for some schools.

Most recently the University of West Virginia is contemplating the sale of alcohol at their football games.  For those of you who don’t know it, the Mountaineers’ faithful are some of the biggest tailgaters in the country, so allowing them to continue the party inside the stadium might very well be a recipe for disaster.

What do you think?  Should schools profit from the sale of alcohol at their sporting events?