KEGS FOR A KAUSE
Drinking is an activity that takes place on every college campus. It takes place in all forms and on many different levels. Drinking in college is often expected and is frequently thought of as part of the college experience. Union, for example, has seven well-known traditions that one should accomplish prior to graduation and one is solely based upon the consumption of alcohol. Union also has a very visible Greek Life, of which most students’ Friday and Saturday nights revolve. ID’s are not checked prior to entering a fraternity party and are certainly not checked when acquiring an alcoholic beverage inside the party. Union College chooses to allow the student body to consume alcohol. It is therefore Union’s responsibility to have us drink in a more economical and environmentally friendly way. Union states that the reason kegs were banned from campus is that the Greek insurance policies do not allow kegs in Greek residences. If an incident were to occur and a file charged, the insurance company would not be obligated to pay if it was determined that a keg was present. The liability, therefore, would be entirely Union’s. In this case, we must rally Union College in support of the use of kegs over cans for use within Greek residences. We will rally Union by educating the Union community about the pros of kegs and the cons of cans.
To begin, kegs are significantly cheaper per serving of alcohol than cans. When one thinks about the thousands upon thousands of servings Union allows to be consumed in Greek residences, this cost difference per serving certainly adds up. We propose that each Greek organization utilize the money they will save purchasing kegs opposed to cans for alcohol education programs and to further environmental efforts. This would benefit the college as a whole as well as the surrounding community by transforming our student body into more educated drinkers by teaching students how to police themselves as well as their classmates as to how much they are consuming and not to participate in particularly dangerous drinking activities.
We recognize that one counterargument is that kegs are binge-drinking devices and extremely dangerous; however, our alcohol education programs would help decrease the incidents of dangerous activities associated with kegs, such as keg stands. It has been stated that when drinking from a keg, one does not know how much they are actually consuming. In fact, the beer from the keg is poured into a cup in the same way that the person behind the bar pours a beer into a cup. There is no use of a measuring device, so it is no different in this respect from the use of cans as a means of distribution. Kegs actually decrease the overall quantity of alcohol consumed at each fraternity party. Campus Safety marks either the number of kegs, prior to the ban, or the number of cases of beer present prior to each fraternity party so kegs limit the quantity of alcohol being served due to the difficulty of sneaking in another keg without Campus Safety knowing at the close of the party. Each keg has an individual ID number on it. If an addition keg were found, fraternities would be penalized. With cases of cans, it is much easier to sneak additional in as well as dispute that any particular can was not already accounted for. Furthermore, waiting in line for a keg is discouraging, whereas cans can be spread out across the bar and distributed much quicker and more easily.
Environmentally, kegs are drastically better than cans. An enormous amount of cans are needed to serve the same amount of alcohol as one keg. Those cans are almost always strewn about the floor of fraternities and rarely, if ever, recycled. This increases the volume of trash the college must deal with. If the fraternities purchased kegs, there would be no need for cans or recycling because the metal shell would be returned to the distributor and reused, thus significantly reducing the college’s carbon footprint. Cups are a nonissue here because they are currently used in the distribution of beer from the bar and would also be used in the distribution of beer from a keg. Decreasing the volume of trash decreases how much the college must spend on trash collection and dumpsters. In addition, every 12 cans come with a cardboard base and plastic wrap around it, whereas each keg only comes with a small plastic cap. To keep cold, cans require the one time purchase of a refrigerator as well as the continued use of electricity. A keg, on the other, only requires a one time fee of a bucket and a continued use of ice. Not using the added electricity further decreases the carbon footprint of the college. A more environmentally friendly college is more likely to receive awards and grants for different projects. Additionally, the money saved from switching back to a cheaper source of alcohol allows the Greek organizations to further their environmental efforts. They can use the money for anything from planting trees to composting or even collaborating with U-Sustain. Also, it is more likely to attract donations from both environmental activists and alumni. Kegs are overall better for the student body, the community and the college as a whole. Union College must fulfill their educational mission and support their students in drinking in a more economical and environmentally friendly way.
What worked excellent were the visuals. We had an actual keg shell as well as one third of the amount of cans that it would take to fill the keg in the form of a pyramid. The volume was astounding. The fact that we actually brought beer cans and a keg into Wold drew a lot of people to our table. Faculty frequently came over asking for a beer. What did not work was that we chose a very controversial topic that while many faculty and administrators agreed with, they felt as if it was against their morals as that faculty member or administrator to sign our petition. For example, Tim Dunn agreed completely with everything we had to say, and even stated that if the insurance companies were to allow kegs that he would be all for them on campus. However, as the former Director of Greek Life and the person who banned kegs from campus, he refused to sign the petition. We believe that the presentation was worth the effort. We do not believe that it will actually cause the insurance companies to change their policies, but we did have great conversation with students and staff alike. We educated the campus about the benefits of kegs and the cons of cans and many took these pros and cons to heart. They were astonished by the environmental statistics and even many of the administrators, with no previous knowledge of why kegs were banned, questioned the decision. We do not believe it will change the insurance companies’ policies because although we got a good number of signatures, there are still many dangerous factors associated with kegs. Moreover, there unfortunately is still the association of kegs with danger and transportations. The Union transportation rates sadly support this association. Next time, we would approach the cause even more cautiously. We would pitch the cause to students differently than we would staff. For students, we would address why kegs would benefit them personally. We would address such things as convenience and the benefits of their Greek house giving back to the community via additional philanthropic events or alcohol education programs. Our follow up plans include sending our petition, as well as our manifesto, to Union’s Greek Life insurance company. We also spoke extensively to Dean Leavitt and would like to potentially collaborate on a few unrelated ideas he proposed.
Overall, we think our project went excellent. We stirred up controversy and convinced many people of the benefits of kegs and the cons of cans. We were able to meet many staff members and network amongst numerous deans and directors. Although we may not be able to change the campus policy, we have learned a lot while doing this project and have shared this knowledge with many many people along the way.