Stay away from that devil’s water

Justin Horwath

What’s distressing about President Bruininks’ proposal to ban alcohol sales at TCF Bank Stadium, which the Board of Regents backed last week, is that it only confirms an American cultural perception about the role of alcohol is society: that it’s meant for abuse.
Instead of creating a constructive policy toward alcohol sales, like giving vendors the discretion to disallow service to anyone who is drunk, or to set a uniform consumption cap (i.e. promoting responsible drinking), Bruininks banned sales all together. The message of that decision is that alcohol is an evil to be abused, not used responsibly. And this is how the administration sees it: if those fans are going to abuse alcohol, it’s going be elsewhere, like bars and house parties, not our new stadium.
Elite members in society like university administrators have the power to turn a societal perception about alcohol use on its head. But in this case the University’s administration decided to shape its policy on the premise that alcohol is something that’s inherently bad. This new policy will certainly reduce consumption inside the stadium. But alcohol was not served at Spring Jam, after which drunk rioters lit part of 7th Street in Dinkytown aflame, thus illustrating that dry policies are ineffective. The administration should work on promoting safe consumption instead of validating the notion that alcohol is going to be abused if it’s around. That is, after all, the same mindset that created America’s “Noble Experiment” with Prohibition.
Update: Star Tribune columnist Nick Coleman hits the mark with this week’s column.  

Note: A sentence in this blog entry was revised from its original “If those fans are going to abuse alcohol, which of course they will, it’s going to be elsewhere, like…” to “And this is how administration sees it: if those fans are going to abuse alcohol, it’s going to be elsewhere, like…”