Students at the University of New Mexico will soon be able to enjoy a new addition to the Student Union Building — a taproom.
The concept for an on-campus taproom first came about in 2016 and was originally headed by Associated Students of the University of New Mexico Student Court Chief Justice Sara Collins and former mayoral hopeful Gus Pedrotty. The duos’ original proposal was presented to a number of UNM officials including ASUNM, the Dean of Students, the provost and the Board of Regents.
Funding for the project has recently been secured and “is sourced in a 50-50 split between the client investment account held by our foodservice partner, Chartwells, and the capital account held by UNM Dining and Food Services,” said Chris Vallejos, associate vice president of UNM's Institutional Support Services.
The possibility of getting a beer after class seems even more probable, Vallejos said, due to a report conducted by Chartwells, which revealed that sales performance and operations implications have determined the project to be “viable.”
Vallejos said the physical design for the addition was carefully considered as well.
“The design process has occurred with a deliberate intention to serve the students’ original vision while enhancing the dining program and expanding the portfolio of offerings for our students,” he said.
The taproom is designed to be the most recent addition in a series of “initiatives to transform our campus into a destination where our students, faculty and staff can live, learn, work and play,” Vallejos said.
Prospective plans for the taproom do not include onsite brewing, which means that the location would sample a number of local breweries while also possibly providing educational events regarding the craft of brewing, he said.
While the student reaction to project has been both notably positive and energetic, it does not come without both concern and inquiry about its ability to coincide with several UNM policies already in place.
Previous conversations regarding the taproom have suggested that there will be a drink limit enforced in order to ensure responsibility.
However, some students may still wonder what a campus taproom will mean for the UNM dry-campus policy already in place for students who are of legal drinking age.
Others may be interested in knowing what hours the taproom would be in operating and if drinking in between classes would become an issue.
“A taproom on campus could become a great place to chill with friends after classes are over — a couple beers would make studying much more fun,” said Kim Walker, a senior at UNM. “My concerns would be about the students grabbing drinks during class hours. I might feel uncomfortable around tipsy classmates.”
“This taproom would operate no differently than the other UNM entities who serve beer and wine,” Vallejos said in regards to the possible risks that could come with an on-campus taproom. “ISS has a responsibility to our community and institution to operate this venue safely, legally and responsibly.”
Vallejos also said a risk assessment is currently underway in order to help the University identify potential risks. If it is found that such risks exist then, “operating procedures will be developed to mitigate any potential risks to the institution and the community,” he said.
That report is expected to be relayed at the February Board of Regents meeting.
As for now, it is expected that the potential UNM taproom will be operated by Chartwells — meaning, Chartwells will “absorb operational costs and revenues applicable to the space,” Vallejos said.
Austin Tyra is a news reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers the Board of Regents. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AustinATyra.