UNM is a dry campus, but some students are looking to change that, while also opening an avenue for intersectional education in other fields of study.
Senior chemistry and psychology major Gus Pedrotty is leading an effort with students, faculty and staff to establish an on-campus taproom, via a petition on Change.org. Pedrotty says it makes sense when considering that another local higher education institution already has one.
"CNM is one of our biggest feeders for UNM, so if they are going to have a program where they're (taught) how to brew," Pedrotty says, "why not create an establishment on campus?"
Pedrotty and others began working on the proposal several months ago, he said, first gathering information from staff, faculty and the administration on what would have to be done to achieve their goal.
One of the first things they discovered, Pedrotty said, is that UNM isn't a completely dry campus -- the no-alcohol policy is only enforced with students.
"There is a faculty and staff bar already on campus that people don’t know about," he says. "So when people bring up the fact that it’s a dry campus, they forget that we are already serving."
Pedrotty refers to the University Club, an environment tailored for faculty and staff to engage with one another outside "what may be characterized as the sometimes limiting atmosphere within one's own department," according to the club's website.
According to a menu on the University Club's website, it offers a variety of beer and wine options.
Moreover, the dry campus policy is one that UNM administration has the power to change should they choose to.
After gathering information from faculty and staff and consulting various administrators on UNM alcohol policies, Pedrotty and a student group created the petition "Install a Taproom at the University of New Mexico."
UNM will be selling beer at Lobo basketball and football games this semester for the first time, making this a perfect time to start gathering support, Pedrotty said, adding that establishing a taproom "just makes sense."
Albuquerque has become renowned and is considered one of the top cities in the country when it comes to the craft beer scene, so for Pedrotty it is a question of why not include the University in that scene?
Adding a taproom will also make students safer, Pedrotty argues.
By allowing students to consume alcohol on campus, they will not have to travel downtown or to Nob Hill, he said. Thus, making alcohol available could potentially reduce the number of drunk drivers.
A taproom would foster community growth on campus, Pedrotty said. Adding such an establishment where students, faculty and staff can engage with each other outside of class could help make the UNM community more tight-knit.
Pedrotty argues that UNM should be competing with beer towns like Fort Collins, Colorado. Last year, Pedrotty said he visited Colorado State University and gathered information about its on-campus taproom.
CSU faculty and students acknowledged their taproom helped younger students learn how to drink responsibly, he said. That's since become a driving point of the campaign to bring a taproom to UNM.
Pedrotty said there is a stigma when it comes to consumption of alcohol, and the tendency of some to drink in excess, or otherwise consume at the other extreme.
"It's either full on binge drinking or full on abstinence,” he said.
Pedrotty and his team hopes that a taproom would create a healthy, accessible environment for alcohol consumption where those of age can learn how to drink in moderation.
According to Pedrotty, the UNM taproom is only the first step, and once it is approved it will open a floodgate of valuable resources.
Faculty are excited to offer new fields of study in, for example, the microbiology of brewing, marketing communications and economics, he said.
“It really is a holistic sell,” Pedrotty said. “It would make logical sense down the road for this to be an educational tool.”
The current plan is for the online petition to be presented to the Board of Regents when the petition has acquired at least 700 signatures.
"Right now we are just making sure we get more people involved (and) more voices from the community involved, so that we have a solid petition that represents all of us," he said.
More information, as well as the petition itself, can be found on Change.org, or on their Facebook page "UNM Taproom."