Here’s to your health

It looks like the University of Minnesota is going to ban alcohol from the new football stadium, the hockey arena and the basketball arena. Seems as if the good Governor, and potential Presidential contender, Tim Pawlenty doesn’t want to discriminate – sell booze to one, then sell booze to all.

So, the University President said no deal. Although “providing alcohol in controlled areas was part of our business plan”, apparently allowing those outside of the premium seating areas of the stadium (those luxury boxes and club rooms, you know) purchase an alcoholic beverage sent the wrong message to students. The Minnesota state legislature called that elitist.

Universities all across the nation have very strict policies on the use and abuse of alcohol. The University of Montana’s policy, for instance, says that

• Consumption of alcoholic beverages on University property is prohibited by Montana University System Policy 503.1 except as expressly permitted.

• No event involving the service of alcoholic beverages may take place on the campus without the prior written approval of the President of the University or his/her designee.

• No organization, business or individual, except the Grizzly Athletic Association, or its designee, may sell, or offer for public consumption, beer or other alcoholic beverages on the campus in conjunction with home football games.

• Will not use any University logo, trademark or name in conjunction with alcoholic beverage or tobacco products or symbols.

• Will not make alcohol or tobacco the focus of any University event, or use availability of beer or other alcoholic beverages or tobacco to promote any University event.

Pretty stern stuff, eh? Given the extraordinary cost, both economic and social, of the abuse of alcohol and other drugs, we would expect nothing less from our institutes of higher learning.

Except the sort of hypocrisy that says it is OK to drink lots of alcohol outside the stadium at one of the many, sprawling tailgates, but not in the stadium. The sort of hypocrisy that says it is OK to drink in one of the luxury suites, but not in the rest of the stadium. The sort of hypocrisy that says it is OK to frequent establishments such as the Press Box as part of the pre-game or post-game festivities, but not to become inebriated in so doing (oh, and no ripping down the goal posts and displaying them in a drunken rampage all through downtown, thanks).

I’m sure the young, easily-influenced undergraduates can navigate that maze of nuance, just as they have since they began drinking alcohol at the tender ages of 15, 12, or even 8. They are adults now, after all. Maybe the University of Montana could start treating them as such and allow everyone the chance to enjoy a beer or wine at the game?

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