Of the 2,200 students living on campus, less than 200 are 21 years old or older and none of them are utilizing the alcohol-permitted dorm rooms at the University of South Dakota this semester.
In its fourth year of being available to students of age, wet rooms are allowed on the first floor of McFadden and the ‘C’ wing of Coyote Village. In 2011, 40 students were living in alcohol-permitted rooms, while only 20 students did in 2012 and in 2013 no students were living in wet rooms.
Todd Tucker, director of university housing, said the low numbers have a lot to do with the lack of interest in alcohol-permitted rooms.
“A lot of students that are interested in alcohol-permitted rooms on campus end up moving off campus because they find a place to live,” Tucker said. “We like being able to offer housing to upper-class students when they choose to take advantage of it.”
Anna Duxbury, a 22-year-old senior, lives in an apartment off campus, which she said she prefers to living on campus.
“It’s just nicer and you don’t have to buy a meal plan and you don’t have to worry about university regulations,” Duxbury said.
Duxbury said the number of wet rooms may be low because students aren’t aware of the option. She didn’t hear about wet rooms until she was already 21 and living off campus.
Cesar Mahoney, a first-year, didn’t know alcohol-permitted rooms were available when he got to campus. He said once he turns 21, he may consider applying for one.
“You can take advantage of university housing resources and have fun in a safe, controlled environment,” he said.
Mahoney said going to a presentation on USD’s wet room policy — one of the required stipulations — is fair, but said the restrictions on drinking games defeats the purpose of living in a wet room.
Another reason behind the low interest in alcohol-permitted rooms could be a misunderstanding among students and university rules that there are requirements involved with the alcohol-permitting rooms, Tucker said. Any 21-year-old caught with alcohol on campus not in a designated wet room is in violation of the student code of conduct.
Sophomore Jared Long said as long as a student is of age, he or she should be able to consume alcohol on campus. He said the only exception to that is if both roommates aren’t 21.
“It’s a legal right,” Long said. “You have the right to drink if you’re 21.”
Tucker and Jef Rice, the assistant director of the University Police Department, said they normally do not encounter problems with 21-year-olds living on campus.
For an alcohol-permitted room to be official, all roommates must be 21, go to a presentation and fill out paperwork. They have to bring the alcohol in the building through a certain door and kegs aren’t allowed.
The residence hall alcohol policy also states, “Parties involving 10 or more individuals, binge and excessive drinking, drinking games (beer pong, flip cup, etc.) and intoxication of participants are prohibited.”
It’s because of these rules Tucker isn’t worried about an increase in underage drinking.
Last year, there were 37 citations for underage drinking issued on campus, UPD reported. Rice said around 20 a year is average for USD.
A citation for underage drinking is a Class 2 misdemeanor. Consequences include a fine and the possibility of being permanently attached to a student’s criminal record. Rice said other consequences, such as the loss of a license, are also possible.
“Students that want to consume (alcohol) are going to find a way to do it,” Tucker said. “So if we can provide a healthy and safe option for students to be able to do it on campus, it’s not a problem.”