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More Thoughts on Kegs
By way of background I served on the SEMP committee for a few years as an undergrad. I believe that the current kegs policy is still the same policy that we had then. Kegs were permitted, but they had to be registered and tagged. In order to have a keg registered and tagged, they had to be associated with a registered event. “Registered events” fell into several categories depending on the nature of the event and how many attendees were expected. Only some registered event categories permitted kegs.
For registered events which did permit kegs, the rules were fairly lenient with how many kegs could be at a party. However, it was stipulated that only one keg would be tapped at any given time. S&S would conduct one or more walk throughs of the registered party and verify that there was only one keg tapped, that the keg was the registered keg, and that it was properly tagged.
In addition to removing bars and getting rid of permanent taps in frat basements, the administration has banned the use of any form of tap which uses additional CO2 as a propellant. All kegs must be hand pumped. The hand pumping is laborious and is typically done in haste, leading to cups which are 2/3 foam and 1/3 beer.
Students will (and have) very openly told the administration that they need to “rack tables” — fill a few dozen cups for pong games very quickly, and that they cannot do this with hand pumped kegs. This is especially true when the basement is full of other students, as it frequently is during open social events.
More widespread use of kegs could be more economical, potentially more environmentally friendly, and perhaps with proper oversight, safer as a single, controlled point source at a party, regardless of the type of tap. The key, however, is controlling their use and associated dispensing practices at parties.
Though unfortunate and inconvenient, it is likely that walk throughs or some kind of oversight is necessary to ensure judicious and responsible use of kegs. In the event that all varieties of taps are permitted and kegs go unregulated, the regression back towards frats having bars and this sort of thing seems to be in close reach. There is certainly a difference between having a 30 pack of cans that have been cooled off for the afternoon and having a keg which is installed in a kegerator and continuously cooled.
Environmental concerns regarding the use of cans and cups are somewhat naive. Kegs would still require the use of more cups, whereas a can may serve as a cup in many instances. It is doubtful that cheap plastic cups will be refilled. Aluminum cans are one of the most economically viable materials to recycle. Typically the plastic cups which are used are of undesirable, low grade polyethylene. When plastic cups are included in recycling they are typically so dirty that it is hard to believe that they are washed and processed at the recycling plant. Even if collected, low grade plastics are frequently discarded by recyclers.
I believe that the argument that foreseen or imagined delays in the availability of beer at frats leads to consumption of hard liquor is somewhat inaccurate. Kids who drink hard liquor, particularly in large volumes, are doing so because they want to get drunk.
I do not necessarily believe that being slightly more lenient with kegs would hurt all that much, but they should not be viewed as a panacea for Dartmouth’s drinking and alcohol related problems. I believe they are of limited environmental benefit, and would do little to cut down on the use and abuse of hard alcohol. I do think the administration has good reason for seeking to prevent the establishment of full time bars in basements.
The “2/3 foam and 1/3 beer at best” comment above is yet another example of how the administration has lost touch with students. By banning real kegs, and thereby obliging students to drink foamy beer from hand-pumped kegs and watery beer from cans, the College’s policy has inadvertently encouraged pre-gaming with hard liquor. Sure students want to get a buzz; the issue is how they do so. The present situation is hardly a superior one compared to the days when fraternities served real beer in real kegs.
Addendum: Bill Mitchell ‘79 had a good column yesterday in The D on the negative effects of the restrictions on kegs.
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