SMU considers campus bar to combat drunken driving
An SMU task force created in the aftermath of three students death related to drugs or alcohol has recommended opening a campus bar and allowing parties at campus fraternity houses.
The Substance Abuse Prevention Task Force on Thursday handed over a 23-page proposal to President Gerald Turner, Dallas-Fort Worth television station KTVT reported.
The task force said its recommendations are intended to give the school more control over social events and cut down on drunken driving. "The overall goal is to support an environment that encourages wise decision-making and the well-being of our students," the university said in a statement.
The university declined to release the report to The Dallas Morning News on Friday.
“The dilemma is the university community deserves the right to review, consider and provide input on the recommendations,” SMU spokeswoman Patricia LaSalle said. “The task force feels an obligation to follow the process we decided on to give it a full and fair hearing.”
Ms. LaSalle said a draft of the recommendations had been prepared by mid-December and that in the past month, task force members provided input. She said President Turner would likely have reviewed the report by the end of today.
If the recommendations are approved, fraternities would be allowed to hold on-campus parties only if they agreed to hire SMU police to check IDs and professional bartenders to serve alcohol.
"If we keep it in a place that is enclosed and we are able to watch everyone, then a lot of the issues that come with drinking and drugs can be stopped," said Greg Standerfer of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.
Another task force proposal would grant amnesty from being expelled or suspended for students who call 911 or campus police to report a student overdose on drugs or alcohol.
Ms. LaSalle said President Turner has the final word on whether to adopt the task force proposals. SMU said in a statement that some of the recommendations may be implemented immediately and that some may require further study.
"We will be happy to answer specific media questions at the appropriate time," SMU said. "But for now we must respect the deliberation process for our campus community."
If a campus bar is approved, SMU certainly would not be the first.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison has served beer in its student union building for years, said Susan Crowley, the prevention services director for the UW-Madison PACE project, which educates students about the effects of binge drinking.
Ms. Crowley said the union serves beer and tries to “model appropriate adult behavior” by frequently checking IDs and promoting moderation. “There’s no comparison in health and safety factors,” she said.
Ms. Crowley added that drinking alcohol is not a substantial part of the union bar and that students generally don’t go there to drink.