Despite a new crackdown on drinking on the Kansas University campus this year, KU police will not patrol this year's commencement ceremonies any differently than in past years, a police spokesman says.
"Alcohol has been against the law (on state property) ever since Kansas has been a state," said KU police Lt. John Mullens. "The only thing that is different this year is the 3.2 beer."
KU earlier this year started a campaign to cut down on excessive drinking and drunken behavior on campus during and after athletic events, after several residents living nearby complained about rowdy behavior on Campanile Hill and in other areas.
Although most alcohol has been outlawed in most areas of the KU campus for many years, people 21 and older could drink beer with 3.2 percent alcohol content on campus without breaking the law.
This spring, however, Lawrence city commissioners banned the possession and consumption of cereal malt beverages on campus, meaning the possession and consumption of all alcohol on campus is outlawed.
MULLENS SAID that during Sunday's commencement ceremonies, all of KU's 35 officers would be on duty.
He said most officers would help visitors find their way around campus, but others will patrol areas to make sure graduates and visitors aren't drinking or breaking other laws.
He said anyone found drinking would be asked to pour out the drink.
People found with unopened containers of alcohol including bottles of champagne, wine or beer will be asked to return the containers to their vehicles.
"Basically, we'd like to see everyone comply with the law," Mullens said. "I know there'll be people trying to get away with it, and we'll have people out there trying to stop them.''
Mullens said police would issue citations to people consuming or possessing alcohol "depending on their cooperation" with the officer.
"We don't have problems with most individuals who are asked to pour it out or take it back," he said, adding that a citation may be issued to people who refuse to get rid of alcohol.
No one has been arrested for drinking at commencement ceremonies for at least 20 years, he said.
One student said she questioned whether police actually would be able to enforce the alcohol ban on Sunday.
"I understand their effort, but it's going to be really hard to control," said Ann Rossi, secretary of the senior class, who will graduate on Sunday.
ROSSI DECLINED to say whether she would have a drink during graduation ceremonies.
"I haven't thought that far ahead yet," she said.
And David Suroff, a Leawood senior who is a student senator this year, said: "I would say people are going to do stuff anyway."
"Whether it's (enforcement) going to work depends on what they're trying to do," he added. "If the reason is to try and keep commencement classy . . . I think people can walk down with a glass of champagne and still be classy.
"But how do you keep people from having 20 glasses? I don't know.''
Graduates are scheduled to gather about 2 p.m. Sunday on Memorial Drive for the commencement procession, which will begin at 2:30 p.m.
Mullens said officials will check graduates at the entrance of the stadium for drinks, which will not be allowed in the stadium.
Animals such as dogs and snakes, which people have tried to bring in the stadium before, also will not be allowed.
Mullens recommended that graduates save their revelry until after the ceremonies.
"There will be plenty of time to celebrate afterward," he said.