Booze on Campus

“Harry Bailly” is a contributing writer on Leavenworth St.

Harry Bailly 01Senator Tyson Larson is at it again, with another alcohol related push in the Legislature. Lest readers think me some kind of Puritan, I take a backseat to nobody in the (mostly responsible) enjoyment of distilled spirits and other such beverages.

Also, I was in college once, and (shh, don’t tell anyone) I occasionally drank, even before I was of legal age. (N.B.: I did not attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and in fact my alma mater did not have an alcohol ban on campus, although alcohol was not—in a technical sense—allowed in dorms.)

Having established that I am not a Puritan, I am also not a prohibitionist. I have a strong libertarian streak. Live and let live. Small government. Robust social institutions tackling social problems instead of the state. Civic virtue. All that jazz. But giving college students a thumbs-up to drink on campus seems to me like a pretty serious liability issue, especially when university administrators know that a good number of the students on campus are under the legal drinking age. Who is going to be responsible for policing and monitoring the ages of drinkers? And when something bad happens, as something bad will, will the university be held liable because someone will make the argument that the university reasonably could have foreseen a preventable tragedy?

Kids will drink. We know that. Bad things will sometimes happen when kids drink. We know that too. Heck, bad things happen when adults drink too much as well. But while the motivation behind Larson’s proposal seems to be sound, the unintended consequences are potentially devastating.

And perhaps that is not what Larson and Schilz have in mind. Perhaps they are not thinking about turning the campus into one giant speakeasy, but rather contemplate some university sponsored events or parties with professional and bonded bartenders checking IDs. I have no problem with that.

The Legislature needs to remember too that Nebraska has a constitution, and the constitution envisions a board of regents to govern the affairs of the state university system. Nebraska also has a supreme court, which held in 1977—this is highly technical legalese—that the Legislature can’t just boss the regents around. The floor of the Unicameral is not the proper forum to be having this discussion.

Another thing I have no problem with is allowing beer sales at Pinnacle Bank Arena and Hawks Field during athletic events. (Memorial Stadium is likely another discussion.) I am told that at least one member of the board of regents is in favor of this idea, and it should be discussed. Servers could check IDs, and the university could use all or a portion of the proceeds from beer sales to fund programs to help students struggling with alcoholism and to provide alcohol abuse education. Chancellor Perlman says he will consider any option geared at reducing alcohol abuse, right? What do you say, Harvey?

Many of the potential problems could be ameliorated—or perhaps exasperated, who knows?—by lowering the drinking age to 18. But that is a discussion for another post.


  1. Interested Observer says:

    Little Ty Ty Larson has come up with even more of his hair brained, crack pot, nincompoop, cockamamie ideas this year than ever before.

    He seems to have single handedly proven, beyond ANY doubt that his idea to lower the legal age to run for governor is completely and absolutely asinine. His big defense for lowering the age to run for governor is that he could not vote for himself for governor right now. THAT’S A GOOD THING, Little Ty Ty!!!

    There’s nothing wrong with growing up a little bit BEFORE you sit at the grown up’s table.

  2. Unicameral Watcher says:

    I know it drives some of the folks here crazy when they watch the Legislature’s video feed and see John Murante talking to Sarah Howard. I just wish that Tyson Larson would have selected a different seat. No one is on camera more than Ernie Chambers. Larson’s seat places him on camera every time Ernie speaks. I’m getting tired of watching little Tyson picking his nose.

  3. The Grundle King says:

    Often the question has been asked, who is going to police the students drinking on campus?

    Why does nobody ask the question, “Who is policing the students drinking OFF campus?”

    Kids are going off campus. They are drinking…legal or not…and sometimes with tragic consequences. A dead kid from the Farm House fraternity is proof of that.

    Drinking on campus need not be a free for all. What do we pay University Police for? What is the purpose of an RA? Like any legislation, improvements can be made. Design a framework by which a safer and more responsible environment can be provided.

    Or keep doing the ostrich trick and pretend that the current system works.

  4. Pipedreamer says:

    The Keystone pipeline is NE news being discussed by Katie Couric and by Congress. But nothing here. We get underage boozing. If you don’t want this blog to spin down the crapper, you may wish to consider tweaking the format. Just a suggestion.

    Obama wants to veto the Keystone XL. —Technically, the argument is silly. For unrestricted air pollution is mostly Asian, the US is crisscrossed by pipelines, Keystone already has hundreds of miles of oil pipe working in Nebraska. Obama blamed Bush for going to war in Iraq over oil. We need oil; even Obama’s limo needs oil. However, Obama won’t let our oil be drilled in Alaska nor will he allow Keystone Canadian oil decrease US dependency on non-North American oils. – Obama says the USA isn’t at war with Islam. Yet Islamic oil is paying for the saws used to behead people in Syria and elsewhere.

    Those bits of irrationality aside, the kicker today is, Obama is waiting for the US State Department to tell him if the Keystone pipeline is or is not in the USA’s best national interest.

    He’s asking the State Department? Not Energy. Not Interior. Not Defense. Not Homeland Security. Nothing that has anything to do with Americans.

    Obama is asking the opinion of a State Department that deals with everything that happens outside the United States. Foreign nations, foreign interests, and foreign competitors. The State Department is full of our diplomats who make sure Uncle Sam doesn’t step on foreign toes.

    Perhaps the State Department can warn Obama of the Keystone pipeline’s potential bad impact on Iraqi oil sales. After all, we aren’t at war with Islam. It wouldn’t do for them to run out of saws.

  5. Pipedreamer says:

    Brian, come on, you are better than that. This blog is talking about drunken kids. I’m trying to talk about NE political news that impacts America.

    I was referring to an Associated Press story today that says Obama is waiting for “State Dept” to tell him what’s going on with this in-USA pipeline issue. The AP story said “oil pipelines already crisscross America”. It shows a map of a Keystone pipe already running through Nebraska. — I get it. We are told this is a GOP vs Democrat issue but unions are for the pipe as much as environmentalists aren’t. The issue is become a wedge. I would rather not go back to the sandbox to fight for oil.

    I don’t watch Faux News or MSNimbecilic News. TV has no news. It is visual pap diluted for spraying at passive viewers in hopes of entertaining or irritating them. Complexity is un-reportable on TV, the aim of which is not to inform voters but to arouse viewers.

    Look, Obama already said he was going to veto the bill. Now he backpedals by saying he’s waiting for a State Department report. That seems the wrong department to ask. I don’t know what he thinks but asking State instead of Interior on such matters seems odd. Or am I wrong on that point?

    Brian, you didn’t address that or any of the Associated Press’ other points. Feel free to add to conversation or we can muddle on with underage drinking.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Pipedreamer, here’s a citation re/the applicable executive orders. Judging by the dates, the executives making the order were Presidents Nixon & Bush Jr, not Obama:

    – The State Department was delegated authority to issue a permit for cross-boundary pipelines by the President under Executive Order 11423 of 1968, as revised in 2004 by Executive Order 13337.

    – Exec. Order No. 13337, §1(g), Issuance of Permits With Respect to Certain Energy-Related Facilities and Land Transportation Crossings on the International Boundaries of the United States, 69 Federal Register 25299 (May 5, 2004).

  7. Anonymous says:

    Sorry for repeated posts, but it made things a little easier. The above are on page 2 of “Presidential Permits for Border Crossing Energy Facilities” by Adam Vann, Legislative Attorney and Paul W. Parfomak, Specialist in Energy and Infrastructure Policy of the Congressional Research Service, dated October 29, 2013.

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