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Should Kansas University reinstate the sale of 3.2 beer at the Kansas Union?

Asked at Borders, 700 N.H. on January 26, 2005

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Photo of Sandy Clanton

“I really think that would be a mistake. We have state laws about the drinking age, and the age of the average college student doesn’t exactly match up.”

Photo of Richard Borton

“I don’t see a problem with it. They are learning to be adults, and 3.2 isn’t exactly being an adult, but it’s getting there.”

Photo of Gerald Mikkelson

“I don’t see any problem with that. I don’t see why they haven’t been doing it all along considering the amount of beer consumed on campus and in town in general.”

Photo of Janeen McWilliams

“No. I don’t think they should make it easier for the college kids to get themselves into trouble by drinking.”


tell_it_like_it_is 13 years, 4 months ago

So it would seem to me that most people agree that the legal drinking age should be 18. So how in the heck did it come to be that it got raised to 21 in the first place? What can we do to change it?

SlappyJenkins 13 years, 4 months ago

ITS F'N AMERICA. WHO ARE WE TO SAY?? LET EM DO WHAT THEY WANT!! Next thing you know there will be a drinking ban on the whole town! ARGH what the hell is going on with our "free" country?!?!

Beck Wilson 13 years, 4 months ago

Is beer in the union so unusual? All that happens is the bowlers get to drink -- it hasn't led to wild debauches at any campus I've been on.

jonas 13 years, 4 months ago

I have to agree with Janeen. If the kids are going to get drunk on campus, they should have to find a 21 year old to buy it from them, sneak it into their dorm room in a big gym bag, and get hammered with the door closed, having bought off their R.A. and most of the security staff with shots of alcohol already, like me and my roommate did. No sense making it easy for them.

LawrenceBoy 13 years, 4 months ago

If the young men and women are old enough to marry, die for their country, drive, rent a hotel room, buy a car, apply for a loan, apply for a job, bury their parents, oh yeah! and vote, they should certainly have the right to drink bad American beer at the Kansas Union.

Applying some consistency and logic to one's thinking really helps with tough questions like this one.

missmagoo 13 years, 4 months ago

I think that beer should be allowed at the union. What's the big deal, its only in one spot and they have very limited hours of operation anyways, why not?? The legal drinking age should be 18, kudos to that.

dubbledownbku 13 years, 4 months ago

Beer and Bowling go together. It is as simple as that. I know the old farts in this town believe that every college student who gets a drink is doing it for the sole purpose of getting wasted, but that is not the case. Just because we are in our early 20s and not 50, does not mean we do not enjoy the taste of beer and the wide variety of tastes that various beers offer us. Some of us "educated alcoholics" enjoy a good beer with bowling or any other events....we just aren't trying to get wasted. If binge drinking is what you're worried about, then all of you opposed to this proposed repeal on the ban of alcohol sales at the union should be protesting against Fraternites and Sororities in general, as they are the ones encouraging young college students to get wasted.

Bad_Brad 13 years, 4 months ago

College students? Drinking beer??? Oh, the horrors!!!

What is this world coming to???

saintsly7 13 years, 4 months ago

I recall there being beer offered at the old Jay Hawk Cafe in the Union. And if memoery serves me right, i do not recall too much mayhem and drunkenness, except for that spring evevning in 1988... It would be wonderful if they could serve FreeState beer.

Brian 13 years, 4 months ago

Previous to 1998, alcohol was sold in the Union with no major problem. It was removed because of an accident completely unrelated to the bar. So right off the bat, any arguement major drunkeness problems is moot.

Secondly, the University would take every precaution to prevent underage drinking. You know that there will always be some bored KU Cop wandering in and out just hoping to write some tickets.

Thirdly, the Union is probably the safest place for anybody to drink. It is within walking distance of every dorm, scholarship hall, fraternity, and sorority, not to mention the neighborhood. For those students outside of walking distance (or unable to walk), the Night Campus Express bus service runs during the evenings from right outside the Union. It's free for all KU students at night. Plus, Saferide opperates it's fleet from the parking lot across the street as well. Jaywalk (the new safewalk program) also runs service from campus (including a new GSP/Corbin service) for additional safety. What other bar in town provides that kind of safety net?

Lastly, this is a huge boon to KU. Immagine how much money they could pull in during KU Football Tailgating or during KU Basketball games. And since the Union is non-profit, all the money goes back to student support services and student programming. Heck, a portion of alcohol sales could be allocated to alcohol education and health support services as a sign of goodwill.

This is a great idea, regardless of how many old curmudgeons want to complain.

italianprincess 13 years, 4 months ago

Okay heres a strange question for someone to answer.

Since I'm not much of a beer drinker , what is 3.2 beer anyway?

When I do drink beer, I drink beer I prefer to drink Miller Genuine Draft. This is my beer of choice, but what is 3.2 beer?

I know someone in here knows the answer. I will look back during my lunch break.

Redneckgal 13 years, 4 months ago

3.2 is 3.2 percent alcohol rather than 5 percent. When I was kid it was legal to drink 3.2 under 21 in Kansas. The stuff was NASTY. But I choked enough of the stuff down 'cause it was legal. Boy was I glad when I turned 21 and could drink me a rum and coke legally.

dubbledownbku 13 years, 4 months ago

You old farts against this should worry less about college students drinking and worry more about figuring out how to drive your cars in Lawrence, because apparently as you age, you forget how to drive. My suggestion is to drive around in Johnson County for a few hours on a Saturday and take notes. Just because you're all old hippies singing in your cars about love, peace, and freeing hemp, don't impede all of us other drivers who have somewhere to get to.

craigers 13 years, 4 months ago

Does everything around college life and hanging out have to involve beer? I am glad that KU is turning out educated alcoholics to enter the world and secure our future. Heck, I'm old enough, why not have beer at work, I mean it isn't like I am going to get drunk or anything. No beer, force students to enjoy themselves without it.

Redneckgal 13 years, 4 months ago

If they want a real problem to worry about why don't they raise the age to obtain credit cards to 21? My daughter turned 18 in April graduated high school in May and by July she had 6 credit card offers of which she managed to obtain 5. And the limits on them are unbelievable for a kid working and making $6.25/hr. One of them was $3000.00!! By Sept. we had to have a VERY long talk about managing our credit wisely and we got rid of all the cards thankfully before things got too far out of hand. Now to me I think thats a bigger problem than the drinking. I think the age for 3.2 should be 18 and the age for cards should be 21.

shoeie21 13 years, 4 months ago

As a graduate student at the University of Kansas who often spends long hours at the University studying and coordinating student events for the department. I think providing the 3.2 beer option at the Union is a great idea. It would be a fun, safe, central location for student events. In addition, would be a great revenue source for the University, since normally the graduate students in my department spend our money off campus. Now we would have the option of spending our money on campus, which could go to help sponsor student events.

Huckleberry 13 years, 4 months ago

Double Down, are you actually suggesting that people in Johnson County know how to drive? Yeah, trying to drive around in Lawrence is like pulling teeth, but I would take it over Olathe any day of the week. Not all old people in Lawrence are old hippies, and if you call yourself an "educated alcoholic", you should know they aren't going to be serving Guiness or Harp in the union. I'd bet on Bud Light, which is fine by me.

Richard Heckler 13 years, 4 months ago

Is it so KU can generate more revenue? Perhaps Mr. Perkins could donate some bucks.

My best guess is they are drinking anyway maybe not at the bowling alley. Drunk is drunk no matter what you drink so why not let them at the good stuff such as Fat Tire, Free State or Boulevard. The 3.2 deal is kinda bogus anyway.

Let's face it drinking one or two beers is cooler and heathier than being drunk. Teach it's more fun without painful hang overs...what a lesson to learn.

italianprincess 13 years, 4 months ago

So basically 3.2 beer is liking drinking crap beer compared to good beer.

Something maybe like Guiness VS Coors, which Coors isn't the greatest beer and Guiness is much better tasting.

I get it, but would rather have a Long Island Ice Tea before a beer anyday.

dubbledownbku 13 years, 4 months ago


I was just making a point that a young adult can actually enjoy drinking a beer as opposed to just drinking to become beligerently drunk. And yes....I have plenty of support on the driving issue compared to Johnson County. The only people who complain about driving in JoCo are the people from Douglas County that screw up the driving here in the first place.

wichita_reader 13 years, 4 months ago

A couple of months ago, I was curious myself as to the difference between "grocery store beer" or "3.2%" and liquor store beer. So, I recently asked a friend who works for a Miller and Coors distributor in Oklahoma City, and here's what I was told. He says that, indeed, "grocery store beer" has 3.2% alcohol content by volume, but that "liquor store beer" is only 3.8% alcohol content by volume, rather than 5.0%. Before that, I had always understood liquor store beer to be 5.0% alcohol content as well.

As to whether KU should allow sales of 3.2% beer at the student union, I say absolutely, and agree completely with the sentiment of many posters that 18-year-olds should be able to at least drink 3.2% beer legally, if not whatever they choose. Back in school, I bartended as a second job and had to deal personally with the scenario presented in Merkin's post, i.e., a vet returning from the middle east and wanting a drink, without having ID showing he was 21. I told him to tell me he was 21 (someone told me this would cover my a@@! if he was ABC or undercover police officer -- btw, does anyone know if that's true), and gave him a beer on the house.

My beers of choice: 1) Domestic - Miller Lite; 2) Micro - Bouley's always good, but so's Sierra Nevada; and 3.) Import - Fosters.

acg 13 years, 4 months ago

dubbledown, you're an idiot. I've been stuck behind more stupid, slow, moronic, stoned on something college idiots while driving around Lawrence than I've ever been stuck behind older "hippies" as you call them. You kids come to the city every year, bringing junk, trash, noise, wild crazy parties at all hours of the night and crowds everywhere. I am all for burning the campus to the ground and running all of you punks out of town, returning you to your mommy's and daddy's homes so you can be their problems and not ours. That's actually why I moved out of Lawrence. It's unnerving to see a bunch of smart assed punks driving around in cars that daddy bought them. They have no purpose. Mommy and daddy are paying a hundred grand so they can learn how to do bong hits, tap a keg in less than 2 seconds or unhook a bra with their teeth. Down with KU punks.

As for today's question, generally I would say, yeah, let them have beer. But you all annoy me so today I'm going to say, hell no, they shouldn't have beer. They shouldn't even be allowed off of campus during business hours when those of us that have real jobs are trying to get somewhere important.

dubbledownbku 13 years, 4 months ago

ACG, you must be a Mizzou fan to make a post lacking so much intelligence. Let's get things straight about KU: 1. KU is one of the cheapest major universities in the country. Tuition does not cost "a hundred grand" whether in-state or out-of-state. 2. Most students learn how to take bong hits in HS..most likely by middle school these days. 3. Most students still can't figure out how to tap kegs, so KU must not be teaching them that. 4. I, as can most of my colleagues, can unhook a bra just by looking at it, without any assistance from my teeth.

I'd like you to try to run us out of town...that would be quite a sight. While some students may cause noise at all hours of the night and throw wild parties, most of them realize at some point in their college years that there is more to life than that. I drive a brand new car as well, but I am paying for it with the money that I make at my job, not because my "daddy" bought it for me. I sense some jealousy from you, so I'm guessing you never attended college and that you most likely just lived under a rock between the ages of 18-24, because that is the only way you could have never partied or created noize "at all hours of the night" during your young adulthood. Thank God you moved out of only if you would have taken the rest of the people as ignorant as you with you.

acg 13 years, 4 months ago

No I never attended college that daddy paid for, you're correct about that. I worked my way thru college, working nights and weekends, earned my degree like an actual responsible person, busted my butt for every single penny I earned, paid my own rent and my own bills and never once took a hand out from my folks. So you can take that and stuff it in whichever orifice pleases you most. You're a KU student, so I'm guessing that will be the anus...?

Hong_Kong_Phooey 13 years, 4 months ago

I think that they should go ahead and open up the gamut of alcoholic beverages if they are going to do it. They are obviously going to be carding to try and insure that everyone is 21, so why would they tell these legal drinkers that they can only have crap beer??

I definitely do not think 18 year olds should be allowed to drink. 18 year olds show poor decision making skills when they're sober, let alone after drinking. 'Consumer1' we'll see if you still think KU Cops are "wannabe's" when they're taking your ass to jail.

'ACG', and others, the city of Lawrence wouldn't be nearly what it is today if it wasn't for the University. The majority of people that live here today are the result of somebody who went to school at KU and didn't want to leave, so quit acting like students ruin the city.

To those people that keep going on about this being a free country, all our rights being taken away, etc., Yes, this is a free country but freedom doesn't mean you can do any damn thing you please. I suggest some of you bitchy, whiny jackasses go live in a country that isn't free and maybe you'll appreciate what we have.

One final thought. Has anyone else noticed how the hippies that protested the war in Iraq were, at first, saying that they support our troops, but now we get people breaking into the Military Science building to chain the doors shut, Marine recruiting offices vandalized, and Army recruiters having to be escorted out of career day at a college in another state. If that's your idea of support, we don't want it.

howard 13 years, 4 months ago

College is about getting as drunk as you can as often as you can right (with a fake ID of course)? As far as I remember about KU and being in a sorority, college and responsible drinking do not seem to go together! Several college students have died from alcohol poisoning lately so why make it easier for our students to get drunk? Can we not have fun without alcohol anymore? Why wait for another drunk driving accident to happen? I just don't get it!

acg 13 years, 4 months ago

It's great Hong Kong that you love KU and everything that goes along with it. You know what's also great? The fact that we live in America and all have the right to our opinions. My personal opinion is that Lawrence would be a wonderful place without the college. I personally think that KU, and all the punks that go along with it, are more trouble than they're all worth. So, whereas, I appreciate and respect your opinion, I have to agree to disagree with you. A lot of people feel the way I do. Maybe they're not posting today, or don't have the cajones to come out and say what they're thinking for fear of being rejected on their precious jworld blog site. Who among us hasn't wished those damned kids would all go away, at least once?

wichita_reader 13 years, 4 months ago

I'm sure someone who actually knows the law can better explain this, but I'll try in layman's terms. I think the drinking age is controlled by the state under its police powers. However, the federal government essentially mandated a drinking age of 21 back in the 1970s or 80s when it began withholding federal highway funds from states which refused to increase their legal drinking age to 21. I think South Dakota(?) was the last holdout, but lost in 1986(?) at the US Supreme Court in South Dakota v. Dole.

wichita_reader 13 years, 4 months ago

Merkin: I don't think there is a valid explanation. Also, out of curiousity I looked up your user name in the dictionary, interesting choice. Do those actually exist?

acg 13 years, 4 months ago

Oh no, he wants to beat me up at the park after school! I don't need to say anything else about you punk, you've just said it all yourself. ROFLMAO!!!

otislivingston 13 years, 4 months ago


I'm sorry to hear about your struggle to put yourself through college. However, I think you probably should've delivered a few more pizzas and taken an English course.

I also think that there should not be any fast food available in the Union. This is simply because the baby boomer generation can't be trusted to stop cramming their fat faces and we shouldn't make it easier for them to became obese, thus forcing us to pay for their outrageous health costs because of their lack of will power.

dubbledownbku 13 years, 4 months ago


funny that you believe every KU student has parents that pay for everything. i would bet money (my own, not my "daddy's") that more than half of students pay their own way or most of their own way through KU. You sure do talk a big game behind a computer...I wonder if you'd be willing to share these feelings amongst us "KU punks" on a friday or saturday night at a location of your choice.

jayhawktownie 13 years, 4 months ago

The flaw in this whole proposal is that they are going to sell 3.2 beer. If they agreed to only sell high-class heavy stuff, we college students probably wouldn't be as inclined to go get tanked because of price and stomach issues that stem from getting tanked off of heavy beer. By selling cheap 3.2 beer, they are basically saying, "Please, come drink a few pitchers."

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