UISG tries wet tailgate

BY SAM LANE | NOVEMBER 13, 2009 7:20 AM

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UI Student Government officials will put the phrase “drinking responsibly” to the test this weekend.
Saturday’s UISG and Hawks Nest Tailgate: Battle for the Roses, marks the first time a UI Student Government-sponsored event will serve alcohol.

Officials said they decided to serve beer at the event to show students it’s possible to drink with control.

Student-organizations director Larry Hau, who helped plan the event, said it’s unfortunate that students have developed a “fixation” on alcohol, and the event allows UISG to advocate education, proper measures, and drinking safety.

“Rather than having the message that you can’t have alcohol, we want students to show we can drink responsibly,” he said.

The tailgate, which begins at 2 p.m. Saturday in the IMU River Room, will allow UI students to watch their Hawkeye football team play Ohio State for the Big Ten Title while socializing, enjoying food and soft drinks, as well as the new attraction: beer.

“I hope people come for the game,” Hau said. “I hope alcohol isn’t the reason.”

As guests find their way to the IMU doors on Saturday, police officers will check their IDs. The officers — not students from UISG — will patrol the entrance, using an ID scanner to check their legitimacy.

Students of drinking age will receive a different color wristband from the ones given to underage students. The plastic wristbands will contain tabs for bartenders to tear off after the guest purchases a beer.

Hau said a number of officers and UISG officials will patrol the River Room, making sure no one attempts to trade wristbands. In addition, each guest will only be allowed to purchase two beers.

“I’m not concerned about access,” Hau said. “It’s almost impossible to fool the machine. It will be hard to get a drink if you’re under 21.”

Jim Mondanaro, the owner of a number of Iowa City businesses and a member of the UI Alcohol Steering Committee, agreed with Hau.

“The Alcohol Steering Committee doesn’t have the intent of prohibition,” Mondanaro said, noting he feels limiting students to only two drinks is the correct approach. “We want to encourage responsible drinking. I don’t have a problem with it.”

Most on the committee concurred, saying they think the event is a positive way to encourage safe drinking habits.

“I’m very impressed with the many safeguards that these students have planned for this event,” said committee member Tom Rocklin, the interim UI vice president for Student Services, in a UISG news release. “I expect that those who choose to drink beer while they watch the game at the IMU will do so in a safe, legal, and responsible way.”

Hau said the event shouldn’t deter students who come to UISG events for the nonalcoholic atmosphere. The event will have other TV screens and overflow areas in the Hubbard Commons — a perfect place for non-drinkers to congregate and socialize, he said.

The IMU’s catering company will provide the alcohol, which students choosing to drink will have to pay for. All funds raised will work to defray the cost of the IMU’s alcohol purchase.

UI students also don’t seem worried about people abusing drinking at the event.

“People will be drinking anyways,” said UI senior Kaitlyn Neises. “If it’s actually controlled and they’re monitoring age and overconsumption, it’s probably a good thing.”

Fifth-year senior Nick Holtan agreed, noting he feels the UI should be a wet campus.

“I don’t think there’s a problem,” he said. “They’re not promoting a drinking mentality. With proper security, no one should be out of control.”

Hau said there are no guarantees similar events will be held in the future, and UI officials will monitor the success of this year’s tailgate.

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