Soon, Pepsi products might not be the only drinks quenching thirst at football and basketball games. The University Senate Executive Committee will hear a proposal March 12 for a bill proposing the sale of alcohol at athletic events.
The Residence Hall Association, Student Government Association and Graduate Student Government already voiced their support of the bill, which was proposed Wednesday by Josh Ratner, SGA student affairs vice president and undergraduate senator in the University Senate.
“It’s something that can create a lot of revenue, allow for a safer environment for students,” Ratner said. “And lots of schools sell alcohol already.”
Because the campus event alcohol policy doesn’t allow alcohol to be sold at sporting events, Ratner said spectators are more likely to drink heavily — or “pregame” — before they come to events, which can create an “uncontrolled and unsafe” environment.
“I would like to see the sale of alcohol at all athletic events, making these beverages available to all attendees who are legally allowed to drink,” Ratner’s proposal reads. “This will reduce incidences of unsafe drinking, attract more fans to athletic events and generate additional revenue for the University.”
The proposal recommends that some of the revenue gained from alcohol sales be allocated to mental health funding, student tailgate funding and student scholarship efforts, such as the Keep Me Maryland program.
Ratner said his goal was to gain support from different student groups, such as the RHA, SGA and GSG, so he could submit the proposal and show it already had “widespread support” on the campus.
Last Friday, the GSG was the first student legislative organization to vote in support of the alcohol sales bill.
The RHA voted in favor of the same proposal Tuesday, and the SGA did so yesterday.
The issue was debated in the RHA Senate, with student representatives voicing concerns about implementation and underage purchasing. Ratner said those concerns would be addressed in the senate by the Athletic Council, which will work on the proposal.
“The university is very capable of fulfilling this effort,” RHA President Omer Kaufman said. “It’s a question of whether this will improve safety. And in my view, it will.”
In discussing the proposal, the GSG agreed alcohol sales could create a better culture and more responsible drinking atmosphere at games.
“Every single body passed this resolution unanimously, and I think it’s something that the University Senate should seriously consider,” Ratner said. “I am excited to see where this goes moving forward.”
Ratner said it meant a lot to him to see how much support the proposal gained from all three student groups, representing the whole student body. He hopes the proposal will make it through the senate and to university President Wallace Loh’s desk with as much support.
“This topic will certainly make for a fascinating discussion on the senate floor,” Senate Chairman Vincent Novara said. “I do wonder, however, why this change is necessary, especially as UMD’s teams are already dynamic and thrilling. No amount of alcohol will enhance the experience of tradition and performance found in college athletics in victory or defeat.”
Jon Banister and Joelle Lang contributed reporting.
Staff writer Morgan Eichensehr is a sophomore journalism major covering the Residence Hall Association and resident life. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @MEichensehr.