Task force recommends stronger policies on alcohol

February 28, 2013

A task force that reviewed UW–Madison’s policies on alcohol service at university events is recommending stronger enforcement of the minimum legal drinking age, limits on events where alcohol is provided without a professional server, and improved communication of alcohol policies to the campus community.

The task force of faculty, staff and students made its recommendations to Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Darrell Bazzell. The recommendations are being reviewed with campus governance groups and other stakeholders.

The policy recommendations and related information may be reviewed online. The website provides an opportunity to comment on the proposals.

Bazzell says the task force conducted the most comprehensive review of UW–Madison’s alcohol policies and procedures in many years.

“The task force did an excellent job of sorting through the many policies, procedures and practices relating to alcohol service on campus and advanced a series of thoughtful recommendations,” he said.

Sarah Van Orman, executive director of University Health Services and task force chair, said the task force worked diligently over many months on an issue that is challenging for the university, community and state. She said the goal is to maintain a campus environment where use of alcohol does not prevent students, faculty and staff from realizing their highest potential.

“We started from the perspective that the university must be exemplary in its practices,” Van Orman said.

Policy recommendations include:

  • Clarifying the definition of university events covered by campus alcohol policy. It covers any gathering, program or activity that takes place on university land, takes place as part of an off-campus, university-sponsored activity, or is paid for with university funds (including student segregated fees).
  • Setting a threshold that two-thirds of event attendees must be above the minimum legal drinking age to permit the service of alcoholic beverages at the event.
  • Limiting campus events at which alcohol may be served under a campus alcohol permit to two hours in length and 50 attendees. Larger events would require the use of professional beverage servers.
  • Allowing deans, vice provosts and divisional directors who have authority to control alcoholic beverages in facilities they oversee to set more restrictive policies for their units.

Task force member Margaret Raymond, dean of the UW Law School, says the recommendations would have a positive impact on the UW–Madison campus.

“As a faculty member and dean, I believe these proposed policy changes support our academic mission and contribute to a culture of responsibility,” she said.

Issues that were outside the scope of the task force’s review include prevention and education regarding alcohol misuse and abuse, on-campus retail sales of alcoholic beverages, community alcohol prevention efforts, and tailgating.

In addition to Van Orman and Raymond, members of the Alcohol Policy Task Force are: Lori Berquam, dean of students, Sean Frazier, deputy director, Intercollegiate Athletics; Maria Giannopoulos, vice chair, Associated Students of Madison; Mark Guthier, director, Wisconsin Union; Christine Horstmeyer, deputy supervisor, Department of Philosophy; Marlon Mundt, assistant professor, Department of Family Medicine; Steve Pearson, former director, Employee Assistance Office; Susan Riseling, chief of police, UW Police Department; Lisa Rutherford, former director, Office of Administrative Legal Services; and Julia Sherman, senior outreach specialist, Continuing Legal Education.