Kansas University administrators have nixed plans to allow alcohol sales in the Kansas Union.
Marlesa Roney, vice provost for student success, said Friday that KU wouldn't allow sales of beer with 3.2 alcohol content in the Hawk's Nest lounge and Jaybowl bowling alley, as had been advocated by students and the union.
"There's not a way to essentially guarantee we wouldn't end up serving an underage drinker, or that someone under 21 would get a cereal malt beverage from someone over 21," Roney said. "Given what the mission of that building is, if we were to have a violation on that, it would not be an appropriate message for the university and for the union to be sending."
Steve Munch, former student body president, initially proposed returning beer taps to the union. The idea was endorsed by Student Senate and the Memorial Corporation Board, which governs student unions.
Beer sales have been banned in the union since 1998 after a recommendation by a task force of city, KU and Haskell Indian Nations University representatives.
The task force convened after the death of Lisa Rosel, a KU student who was hit and killed by a car driven by another student, Matt Vestal, as she walked in the 1400 block of Tennessee. Both Rosel and Vestal were intoxicated, police said.
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Roney said the only way she could approve allowing beer in the union was if it could be done in a room that allowed only students over 21 years of age. Given the mission of the union to provide services to all students, that didn't seem appropriate, she said. Also, that might require remodeling the union.
John Wilson, a former student senator who worked on the beer proposal, said he was disappointed by the decision but understood why it was made. He said student senators had hoped adopting the policy could have provided students and others a place for safe, responsible drinking that could be a model for younger students.
"I think this could have been an opportunity for us to teach responsible drinking habits and social norms," said Wilson, a senior from Lawton, Okla.
David Mucci, director of the union, said allowing beer would have been "a very interesting experiment" for the union.
"But in terms of the bigger picture, with the risks entailed, it's not worth it," Mucci said. "There could have been some positive (behavior) modeling in this, but the likelihood of doing this ... in a zero-tolerance way, we can't meet that standard, and we need to."