By: Will VanOrder
NMSU is the the only college whose fight song involves alcohol and drunkenness. After the most recent senate meeting for ASNMSU, which involved a passing vote in favor of Resolution 12, it might soon become much easier to get ahold of that illustrious “keg of booze.”
“Resolution 12 proposes the acquisition of a Liquor License in the Corbett Student Center Union,” Senator Manuel Ordoque said. Senator Ordoque is the senator who wrote the resolution, and therefore represented it throughout the process of it being voted on. “We hoped that acquiring a liquor license would open potential discussion for a place for students to enjoy alcoholic beverages, be it through conference services or a potential pub.”
ASNMSU President Matt Bose was also in favor of the resolution, and more specifically in support of Senator Ordoque. “Senator Ordoque is a passionate senator, when he believes in something he will do everything in his power to see it through,” Bose said. “With a resolution like this its important to have somebody who has that kind of passion. Manny also does a great job of going to every college council when big decisions like this are being made, I admire that about him and I think he did his due diligence throughout this process.
The pub Ordoque mentioned was a secondary aspect of the resolution, which would allow Corbett to not only sell liquor during conventions and at events hosted there, but also set up a permanent establishment to sell alcoholic beverages. “Some positive consequences for having a potential pub, which is explained in the resolution, would be potential employment for students and the involvement of HRTM department,” Ordoque noted.
Bose also stated a slew of potential benefits for the liquor license. “Alcohol is not off limits in the student union, but the people looking to organize the event must jump through hoop after hoop. With a liquor license it will be much easier and cheaper for our student organizations to have alcohol at their events,” Bose stated. “This translates to Greek Life being able to host events with alcohol in the union, this means the Graduate School can bring the graduate symposium back but most importantly we open up the space to the community as an opportunity to generate revenue for the union.”
On top of the advantages for the liquor license, Bose and Ordoque both believe that the potential to increase student connection is large, while the added risk of serving alcohol is quite low in their opinions. Ordoque stated that because ASNMSU typically focuses on the younger demographics, this is something they felt was capable of “creating an atmosphere that they (older students) can enjoy and utilize with other people in their age group.”
Bose’s statements regarding potential advantages in a pub largely built on what Ordoque had previously stated. “I see a potential for us to bring back a connection with our 21 and older students. I think as student organizations we do a good job reaching younger classmen but as people get older it gets harder for them to stay engaged on campus,” Bose stated. “My vision for the pub is a hub for NMSU athletics, much like a buffalo wild wings environment as well as allowing us to put programming such as: bingo, trivia, and open mic night on.”
Bose also noted that the financial expenses to the university would be minimal. “As far as finances go, because NMSU is a governmental entity liquor licenses are much, much cheaper,” Bose said. “Every time we get a ‘new’ license we are actually just extending our current license. I’m told this costs no more then $1,500 – $2,000.” This would be considerably cheaper than the competitive price for private companies in the $300,000 range. It also is similar to neighboring states’ rates such as Colorado, where the average liquor license will sell to the public for roughly $3,000.
While Resolution 12 passed its vote through the senate, the margin was slim. 17 votes were needed to acquire the necessary percentage, and it was counted as 18 senators in the affirmative. “I was for the acquisition of a liquor license for Corbett, but my main reason for voting against the resolution was the pub.” Senator Emerson Morrow stated. “After reading the WAVE report presented to senate, it was made clear that WAVE was not in favor of the pub.”
The WAVE report Senator Morrow made reference to had five main areas of concern for the pub. These areas were mostly regarding students who have struggled or currently struggle with alcoholism, as well as academic standing and retention of the university. According to the report- which was composed by Meg Long and Debra Darmata of WAVE- “one in four students report having problems in school due to drinking; among college students who dropout, an estimated 30% attribute it to alcohol abuse.”
“Having a pub inside the student union presents a lot of issues for recovering alcoholics, or grew up in a home with alcohol abuse,” Emerson stated. “There is a time and place for everything, and I don’t think that an institution of higher learning needs to concern themselves with a pub.” Senator Emerson stated that he took the WAVE report heavily into account, and made emphasis on the fact that he was in favor of the license separate from the pub.
Senator Ordoque believes a large portion of resistance to the bill comes from the term ‘pub’. “Pub is usually given a bad connotation because it refers itself to a place where people go purely to get inebriated,” Ordoque said. “But, it has been explicitly presented to the senate that this will not be the case in reference to the reasons and intentions stated below. We hope, in conjunction with the ASNMSU Senate, we can put strict measures on how alcohol will be sold for the safety of our students and the community.”
“I’ve tried to assure all that I’ve talk to that this will be the strictest place to get served in Las Cruces,” Bose stated. “Some are citing that drinking and driving will go up to which I reply, one they shouldn’t be able to drink enough to get drunk but if they do, ASNMSU provides crimson cab to ensure that our students get home safely.”
WAVE’s report included mention of the proposed precautions in terms of safety. According to the report, the resolution would require that students provide two forms of identification (driver’s license and Banner ID). The student would then have to swipe their Banner ID to receive confirmation of being 21 years old. The drink limit would be three. WAVE’s report concluded by stating “after reviewing the published literature and examining the results of our own CORE surveys, we strongly recommend that Resolution 12, as presently proposed not be passed.” WAVE did offer their continued assistance if the resolution was passed.
“We believe that building a pub on campus will bring student life together by throwing events, such as karaoke, professional seminars and conferences, and social gatherings vital to student organizations,” Ordoque stated. “We hope, in conjunction with the ASNMSU Senate, we can put strict measures on how alcohol will be sold for the safety of our students and the community.” The passing of the resolution does not guarantee the license will be obtained or the pub will be put into Corbett, but it does move each of those two possibilities one step closer to becoming reality.