The new campus-wide policy for serving alcohol at university events circumvented the student government, Faculty Senate and the governing body for student organizations before it was approved earlier this semester.
The policy change focuses on official university events held both on and off campus and applies less to student organizations and undergraduates than it does to departments and graduate students, Sarah Van Orman, director of University Health Services, said. Van Orman lead the task force that amended the alcohol policy.
The task force, which included faculty, staff and students, was established to recommend changes to the university policy, Van Orman said. Campus governance groups and other stakeholders then approved the suggested changes, she said.
The final policy document was not presented to the Associated Students of Madison, the Faculty Senate or the Center for Leadership and Involvement before its approval.
Some members of these shared governance groups said they should have had the opportunity to offer input on the policy.
“I wanted it to come in front of the Faculty Senate. If the rules are going to have campus-wide effect, then it requires the faculty input,” John Sharpless, a history professor and member of Faculty Senate, said.
ASM Chair David Gardner said even though the student government gave feedback, which influenced the policy, members never approved the final document before it went into effect.
Chancellor Rebecca Blank recently asked CfLI to create clarified policies for its organizations for the upcoming fall semester, Eric Knueve, director of CfLI, said.
A 12-member committee is began reviewing the ways the policy should be applied last month. The committee includes four ASM appointees, four student organization representatives, three staff members and one faculty member, Sharpless said.
Knueve said the center is focused on educating registered student organizations about how the policy should be followed on campus.
Fraternity and sorority chapters are included under CfLI regulation, but these groups already follow alcohol policies as dictated by each organization, he said. Most of their events are not held on university property, he added.
Sarah Laudon, risk manager for the Panhellenic Council, said under its own guidelines and for insurance reasons, Greek-related events do not serve alcohol at events held on campus.
CfLI is also reviewing possible off-campus effects the policy could have on RSOs.
Since CfLI is a part of the Division of Student Life, its staff must follow the policy, Knueve said. However, the organizations’ regulations are not considered university entities unless they hold events on-campus, he said.
“Any RSO events held off-campus are no longer using university resources and, at that point, are only under CfLI rules,” Knueve said. “This is the area that gets complicated.”
There are two ways to serve alcohol at events, either through Wisconsin Union catering or by obtaining an alcoholic beverage permit, Van Orman said. Undergraduate student organizations are not permitted to obtain an alcohol beverage permit.
For events where a mix of faculty, staff, graduates, alumni and undergraduates are present, the committee established a “two-thirds rule,” which states alcohol cannot when two-thirds of attendees are under 21. She said the rule was proposed by one of the student members of the committee.
Sharpless said critics of the rule are concerned about the difficulty of tracking an accurate two-thirds total at all times, especially at large events where people come and go.
“The university has an obligation to a serious and healthy environment,” he said.
Editor’s Note: Sharpless is a faculty advisor to the Herald.