South Dakota college students work on changing Board of Regents policy to allow alcohol sales at home games

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Marty Strausburg, Arthur Egan, Nick Strausburg and Michelle Strausburg do a shot ski during a tailgate on Sunday, May 16, 2021 outside Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
Marty Strausburg, Arthur Egan, Nick Strausburg and Michelle Strausburg do a shot ski during a tailgate on Sunday, May 16, 2021 outside Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

Groups of students at four of South Dakota’s public universities are working to get malt beverages and wine sold at home sports games.

Student governments at Dakota State University, Northern State University, South Dakota Mines and South Dakota State University have all recently passed resolutions at the student-government level that support the change of a South Dakota Board of Regents policy that restricts the sale of beer and wine at home games.

The students say it could help decrease binge drinking on game days, improve attendance at home games and create a more vibrant atmosphere in the stands.

South Dakota law allows “periodic retail sale of malt beverages or wine for consumption” on campus at locations and times authorized by the Board of Regents, such as at performing arts, athletics, fundraisers, receptions, conferences or other events.

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Maddie Mack braids Matty Kerr's hair during a tailgate on Sunday, May 16, 2021 outside Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
Maddie Mack braids Matty Kerr's hair during a tailgate on Sunday, May 16, 2021 outside Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

However, current BOR policy restricts alcoholic beverage sales at athletic events to box suite and lounge areas. Those sitting in general admission areas, which is the large majority of fans and students, can’t drink at the games.

Mines’ resolution states that the “safest place for a student is on campus,” and that students who aren’t on the safety of campus may be “exposed to a more dangerous setting of drugs, alcohol and other risks.”

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The safety of the campus venues “eliminates drugs and promotes a safe drinking culture where overserving is not allowed or tolerated, and violent or unsafe behavior can be swiftly met by security and/or law enforcement,” resolutions from Mines and SDSU state.

Both the SDSU and Mines resolutions cite a 2015 BOR task force report that found SDSU could make $122,000 and Mines could make $15,000 in concession income.

Kevin Eisenbeisz (left), Brett Deilbert (center), and Tanner Farmen (right) enjoy burgers and beer at a tailgate party outside USD’s Dakota Dome prior to a homecoming game against Central Washington in 2006. Students, today, are pushing for more access to alcohol at home games this year.
Kevin Eisenbeisz (left), Brett Deilbert (center), and Tanner Farmen (right) enjoy burgers and beer at a tailgate party outside USD’s Dakota Dome prior to a homecoming game against Central Washington in 2006. Students, today, are pushing for more access to alcohol at home games this year.

“A lot of people when they turn 21 go to Cubby’s or Buffalo Wild Wings to have a drink to watch the game instead of going to the game,” said Jonathan Sundet, a 20-year-old SDSU student and a Senator with SDSU’s Student Association. “I don’t drink myself, (but the policy) would create a better atmosphere for students, alumni and fans.”

Sunset and two other SDSU students brought this topic and their resolution to the Dec. 8 BOR meeting. Brian Maher, BOR executive director, said the BOR office could have more information on this ready for the board by its March meeting. Regents could potentially vote to repeal the prohibitionist BOR policy at that time.

“Student experience to me is number one, and I think the student body is very in favor of this, and I think so are the alumni,” SDSU student Brandon Frizzell said at the December meeting. “It’s a very popular issue and one that we should be addressing.”

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Sundet said other universities who’ve allowed alcohol sales in games have seen reductions in binge drinking and increased attendance. He noted university police were able to handle Jacks Bash in both 2016 and 2021, which is an on-campus concert that he described as a “crazier environment and larger attendance.”

USD fans Scott Simons, from left, Zoey O’Brien and Leah Jeseritz tailgate before a game against Western Illinois a few years ago at the DakotaDome in Vermillion. Students, today, are trying to change alcohol policies for home games this year.
USD fans Scott Simons, from left, Zoey O’Brien and Leah Jeseritz tailgate before a game against Western Illinois a few years ago at the DakotaDome in Vermillion. Students, today, are trying to change alcohol policies for home games this year.

“When you have people (drinking) at tailgate and have to cut them off, they down so many beers before the game since they have a need to feel that feeling since they can’t have (alcohol) in the stadium,” Sundet said of the campus culture before games.

He stressed the importance of the resolutions and said it would positively impact both those who drink and who don’t drink alcohol. He said similar resolutions are likely to be brought up in student government associations at both the University of South Dakota and Black Hills State University this semester.

This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: South Dakota college students work to change alcohol sale policy

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