Owner of a Party Line-Approved Vodka Speakeasy
The University of Dallas has been swift in responding to the City of Irving’s recently-passed ordinance that redefines the area’s laws on alcohol possession and consumption. The new ordinances, passed on March 27, has required President Thomas Keefe to announce UD’s new status as a “dry campus.” Dry campus is a name given to a school that does not allow any alcoholic beverages to be consumed or possessed on its premises.
According to City of Irving Ordinance 63 F. I. B., § 227, possession and consumption of any beverage above 1.9 percent alcohol content, inclusive, shall be permitted on school campuses only in locations in which the licensed alcohol vendor distributes in an enclosed, permanent structure. Additionally, no individual under the age of 21 shall be present in the structure in which alcohol is sold.
For UD, this new ordinance means that the school must massively overhaul its policies, its events and even its culture. Any possession or consumption of alcohol in a private location on a school campus, even a personal residence hall room, could be punishable by law. Up until now students above the age of 21 have been allowed to have alcohol in their on-campus rooms or apartments.
Campus events such as Oktoberfest and Mallapalooza currently have no feasible way to serve beer legally. Since the beer gardens, which have been used in the past, are not permanent structures, and they technically do not fully enclose the area, they will not fulfill the conditions of the new statute. Assistant Director of Student Activities Catherine Duplant said that administrators are looking for a solution that could maintain the character of these events.
“We have considered investing in a permanent structure that could serve alcohol during these events, but that comes with its own set of concerns,” she said. “We don’t want to totally separate the of-age students who choose to drink from the rest of the people attending the event because this would really alter the whole nature of the event.”
Even TGIT, the beloved weekly tradition, will be forced to change to conform to the ordinance. Since TGIT has always served alcoholic beverages to of-age students in an area in which underage students are present, it will change most noticeably. TGIT coordinator Brigid Callahan said she is worried about the changes that the new ordinance could cause.
“For me, TGIT has always been the time in the week when you can relax, hear great music and drink a beer with your friends,” she said. “Now that we won’t be allowed to consume any alcoholic beverages, I’m worried that people will be way more likely to decide to go off campus.” Callahan said she feels that this new ordinance will negatively change the culture of UD.
“Before I was 21, I still loved coming to TGIT because it brought all the classes and ages together,” she said. “Now, if 21-year-old students are deciding not to come, they won’t interact with underclassmen as much, and school events and the school’s close-knit community will suffer.”
Other students expressed similar opinions on the new law. Junior Philip Wykowski argued that the new ordinance will be harmful to school culture and traditions.
“People will be way more likely to just stay in their off-campus apartments,” he said. “The people who passed this law didn’t consider all the consequences of it. For UD, I think it’s going to prevent everyone from mixing and getting to know each other. Events aren’t going to be as fun and that’s going to change the whole atmosphere of UD.”
While student opinion is generally against the new ordinance, some administrators welcome it. Keefe showed his support in his March 30 announcement of the steps UD would have to take to comply with the legislation.
“These ordinances aren’t in place to keep you all from having fun or to make it harder for you to drink alcohol,” he said. “They are really here so that schools can do a better job at following the law and keeping their students in a safe environment, and that is a very important goal to both the city and the University of Dallas. We will be looking for ways to continue UD traditions while bringing the school up to legal standards.”
In spite of Duplant’s and Keefe’s assurances, many students remain convinced that the law will prove harmful to UD. Junior Elizabeth Schmidt expressed her concerns.
“It is not going to be the same here if there’s no way to have a beer at a campus event. It seems like [legislators] think they can’t trust us to enjoy ourselves responsibly,” she said. “At least Groundhog is off-campus though. We still have Groundhog.”