Picture this: Walking into the YU, buying a beer for just 2 or 3 dollars. Sitting back, relaxing, talking with friends, and just having a good time before heading to class. Your student government is currently working to make this dream a reality.
More than two dozen people showed up over the lunch hour on Tuesday to discuss proposed beer and wine sales at the Jacket Java in the Yellowjacket Union. Student Government Association president Graham Garfield has been working with Gail Archambault, director of the YU, in researching the idea.
The proposed area includes the booths along the side of Jacket Book and Supply, along with the couch and chairs in front of the fireplace near Jacket Java. A’viands would provide beverage servers, trained to monitor individual alcohol consumption. A radio would be provided to ensure immediate communication with Campus Safety in the event of any trouble. Alcohol sales would be restricted to individual bottles of wine and beer, and legal photo ID’s would have to be presented for every purchase. Individuals would only be allowed to buy one alcoholic beverage at a time, reducing the possibility of someone buying alcohol for someone who is not of age. Hours would be restricted, from 3 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., allowing customers to finish their beverage before the building closed.
Several objections were raised. The complaint most frequently voiced was that of students who use the proposed area for studying, because it is the quietest place in the YU. Student Government Association president Graham Garfield countered that the Yellowjacket Union is designed to be a social place as opposed to buildings that are designed for studying, like Jim Dan Hill Library and Swenson Hall. A return objection was made about the early closing of the library on weekends, and the difficulty getting into Swenson after hours, caused by waiting for Campus Safety to come let people in. Archambault responded, saying that census studies showed the area beside the book store, and YU in general, had very low numbers of users during the evening.
Another complaint raised was the appearance of supporting alcohol use over the emphasis on academics, with one person saying that she would not have come to this school if she had known there would be alcohol served on campus. Other members of the audience chimed in, saying that the other University of Wisconsin schools that do have a “beer garden” type facility also have much larger populations. Director Kara Schmidt of the SGA responded that there is a large non-traditional population on campus whose needs should be considered also. Garfield stressed again that this space would be open to students of all ages, allowing for social gatherings of a diverse range of people.
Criticisms were leveled at President Garfield, asking him why he was spending his time on this project rather than the green initiatives that he campaigned on. Garfield replied that the campus-wide planning commission was being discussed in Academic Staff committee, and that there were concerns about wind-generated power that he had not understood originally, including permit processes and the direction of the wind. Garfield expressed a desire to meet with any student who would like to talk about these initiatives during office hours.
Chancellor Wachter has asked that students weigh in on this decision. All students are encouraged to let their SGA representative know their feelings.