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UMaryland Seeks Beer Sales at Athletic Events

The University of Maryland seeks to sell beer at football, basketball, and other athletic contests on campus.

University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh writes:

After extended and careful consideration, the University has submitted a proposal to the Prince George’s County Board of License Commissioners (“Board”) for permission to serve beer and wine at UMD athletic venues starting in fall 2015, on a one-year trial basis. This Board has agreed to consider our request at an upcoming meeting (to be announced).

The idea originated last fall with the Student Government Association (SGA), which presented it to the University Senate Executive Committee. This Committee referred the issue to the Athletics Council. Chaired by Professor Nick Hadley (Physics), this Council—comprised mostly of faculty and staff and some student representatives—studied the issue and voted 16-1 earlier this spring to recommend to me that beer and wine sales be allowed on a provisional basis, with an assessment at the end of the year.

The SGA, the Graduate Student Government, and various other student organizations endorsed the recommendation, as did the UMD Police Department and the Division of Student Affairs. A subsequent online forum elicited 1,000 responses, about half expressing a clear preference: most of the students (N=265) were in support; most of the faculty and staff (N=112) were not; alumni (N=47) and community members (N=19) were about evenly divided.

Our student leaders want to “transition the student body from a culture of unsafe pre-game binge drinking to a culture focused on healthier social drinking.” I agree with their approach and support the proposal for several reasons.

One big reason is that administrators hope to net $500,000 annually and introduce wine and possibly hard liquor, if they’re in the clear with beer, in the future to increase revenues.

But an overcrowded campus that turns neighborhood streets into parking lots and results in hideous, hulking architectural monstrosities overlooking Route 1 has left many locals in no mood to indulge the university. Cars striking, and killing two, several pedestrians late at night near a bar-heavy section of Route 1 last year led to a student demand for sidewalk barriers, to protect them from impulsively entering the street outside of crosswalks, rather than introspection about how excessive partying increases dangers on Route 1.

Put another way, the money might be right but the timing appears off.

“We told them we didn’t think it was a good idea,” Charles W. Caldwell III, chairman of Prince George’s County’s Board of License Commissioners, informed the Baltimore Sun. “I don’t think they paid any attention to us.”

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