University looks at alcohol policy

A new alcohol policy at UW-Madison has many Madison students up in arms because of its strict new rules. It also has administrators at UW-Eau Claire examining Eau Claire’s alcohol policies.

Some of the new rules include not allowing alcohol at student-sponsored events unless everyone present is 21 or older, requiring food to be served and requiring that non-alcoholic drinks besides water be available at a cheaper purchase price than alcoholic beverages, according to the policy.

The new policy has 15 points and is in its seventh draft. It would punish not only individuals for violations, but student organizations as well.

While Eau Claire has a somewhat more lenient policy when it comes to alcohol at student functions, this policy could be changing in the near future, said Jodi Thesing-Ritter, associate dean of Student Development.

“We do allow alcohol, and students have to be ID’d just like everywhere else,” Thesing-Ritter said. “We’re working on refining the policy to make it more clear,” she said. “It’s a little ambiguous.”

Currently, functions such as the Viennese Ball are allowed to serve alcohol to participants who are of age. This applies to most student organizations, but not sororities and fraternities, Thesing-Ritter said, adding many sororities have national policies when it comes to serving alcohol.

If not, they refer to state laws where the university can cite them for serving to minors or serving without a license, she said.

Beta Upsilon Sigma, a business organization, often serves alcohol after meetings and attends functions where alcohol is served. But this is sometimes difficult for younger members who are not yet of legal drinking age.

“I understand the pub crawl and everything, but those who aren’t 21 kind of get screwed,” said junior Beth Sommerfeld, a former member of BUS.

“I think our policy needs to be looked at,” she said. “Our policy isn’t as enforced as they like to think it is.”

This is one of the reasons why Thesing-Ritter said she is looking to make some changes to the current policy.

In a meeting next week with the Davies Center council, Thesing-Ritter said she plans to discuss the ambiguity and lack of enforcement. One of their main goals is to enforce the already standing rule that students are not allowed to advertise events that will take place in a bar, she said.

Thesing-Ritter said she hopes refining the policy will clear up some confusion.

“We’re having these meetings so when I talk to student organizations I can clearly tell them what is okay,” she said.

As for the new Madison policy, students held a forum Tuesday night to discuss possible solutions and changes to the policy draft.