The University of Mississippi has a new policy on alcohol that clarifies where on-campus alcohol can be sold legally to address the confusion around the SEC lifting its ban of alcohol sales in athletic venues.
The alcohol policy revision, which went into action earlier this month, came after the SEC announced in May that they would be lifting the ban of selling alcoholic beverages in general seating areas at on-campus stadiums.
According to the new policy, alcohol is not allowed in any academic or administrative buildings, unless it is served under a lawfully issued permit. Registered student organizations are not allowed to serve alcohol under any circumstances.
The policy’s purpose is to “combat substance abuse, reduce dangerous drinking and promote responsible behavior regarding the consumption of alcohol.” It applies to students, registered student organizations, faculty and any other person on university property.
“The University of Mississippi is committed to providing students, employees and visitors a safe, supportive and welcoming environment for all academic, cultural, athletic and social events,” the policy reads.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, who made the announcement, said in a statement that the governing of alcohol sales has been a source of considerable discussion and debate in recent years.
“As a conference, we have been observant of trends in the sale and consumption of alcohol at collegiate sporting events and have drawn upon the experiences and insights of our member schools which have responsibly established limited alcohol sales within controlled spaces and premium seating areas,” Sankey said in the statement.
Schools in the SEC are now allowed to sell alcoholic beverages at games, but not all of them are choosing to do so. Auburn will not be selling alcohol, according to 247Sports.com, and Alabama issued a statement announcing their intentions to not sell as well.
Larry Sparks, vice chancellor of finance and accounting, was the interim chancellor as this policy was being edited. This was the result of a requirement to look at policies every few years to go over and possibly edit them.
“I put together a committee and asked them to look at (the) issue (of the SEC lifting the ban), and to look at all other associated issues that they felt might be relevant with the serving of alcohol at athletic venues,” Sparks said.
Sparks said that the committee decided to change the policy completely after looking at it.
Erica McKinley, the university’s chief legal officer and general counsel, was in charge of Sparks’s committee. She wrote in an email that she believes the new alcohol policy will have a positive effect on campus.
“It promotes responsible behavior and provides clear and explicit guidance regarding prohibited conduct and the penalties for noncompliance,” McKinley wrote.
When asked about the updated policy, Provost Noel Wilkin responded in an email, saying that the university updated the policy to implement the SEC’s revised policy on alcohol sales and service in athletic venues.
“It is our hope and expectation that people will consume alcohol responsibly in accordance with all appropriate laws and university policies, and we are conducting an educational campaign to encourage people to do so,” Wilkin wrote in an email.
Even before the new policy, alcohol has never been completely banned from campus grounds.
“There has not been a total prohibition (of alcohol) on campus,” Sparks said. “Have you been on campus?”
However, students on campus have had issues with determining whether or not alcohol is allowed on campus, and if the policy applies to students specifically or applies to alumni as well.
Sophomore international studies, accounting and Spanish major Noah Hubbard said that he thinks there is a blurry line between alumni and students being able to drink on campus.
“I know official social events for students on campus aren’t allowed to have alcohol, but I don’t know if the same restrictions apply to events for alumni and professors,” Hubbard said. “You also see students getting in trouble for having alcohol on game days, but when alumni have it, no one bats an eye.”
Alcohol is permitted to be sold in certain athletic facilities, including Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, The Pavilion and the Oxford-University Stadium at Swayze Field.