The petition for a on-campus taproom at UNM has gathered much attention recently, and University administration say they are open to a campus-wide discussion on safety and sensibility if students did have the opportunity to drink alcohol on campus grounds.
UNM senior Gus Pedrotty started the petition, entitled "Install a Taproom at the University of New Mexico," on Change.org.
Pedrotty said he will propose the petition to UNM President Bob Frank and the Board of Regents once it has acquired at least 700 signatures, and will propose the SUB as the proposed taproom's hub. As of time of publishing, the petition has about 410 electronic signatures.
“Obviously, we will take just about anywhere, but we think the SUB is the perfect way to do it. It's on the interior of campus, it’s a major throughway, and there is already infrastructure for food sales,” Pedrotty said. “It would help the entire economy of that area.”
Frank said he would consider engaging in formal talks on the proposal, "to carefully consider the pros and cons, as well as gather input into how it would be implemented and regulated."
A Daily Lobo Twitter poll conducted earlier this week suggests that students are overwhelmingly in support of a taproom on campus, with 81 percent of 75 respondents saying they support the initiative.
Student Regent Ryan Berryman said not only was he aware of the petition, but he has already met with the initiative's leaders earlier this year.
Berryman said the topic was worth discussing because many UNM students feel strongly that a taproom will “enhance the campus experience.”
“If a large number of students have an interest in something, it is worth discussing further to examine the proposal’s merits and flaws. The discussion needs to include a large number of stakeholders with safety and sensibility as primary talking points,” he said.
Pamina Deutsch, director of the UNM Policy Office, said although it is important to include the Board of Regents in the discussion of a possible location where alcohol can be bought and consumed by students, it is ultimately up to Frank to approve the policy.
“The Regents have delegated to the University President the authority for approving changes to administrative policies (such as the policy on alcohol use), but it makes sense to have the Regents approve the concept of the taproom,” Deutsch said.
According to the Policy Office’s "Check List for Formal Review of Administrative Policy," the proposed policy must first go through David Harris, executive vice president for administration; Elsa Cole of University Counsel; Pamela Pyle, president of the Faculty Senate; the UNM Executive Cabinet; Mitch Garrity of the President’s Office; and a handful of other administrators for revision and review before it can be presented to Frank for final approval.
UNM faculty members are interested in considering the pros and cons of the proposal, but many have heard little to nothing about the proposal until now.
Bruce Hofkin, a UNM biology professor, said he was unaware of the petition, but at first glance said he had no immediate objection to the proposal.
But he needs more information to form a legitimate stance, he says, such as who will be serviced and what the hours will be.
Moreover, there are already bars close to campus, so Hofkin said he is not sure an on-campus taproom is a necessity, but it could be a fun socializing spot for the UNM community.
“Like anyone, people here seem to enjoy socializing and if the proposed project is a nice place to hang out it might be popular,” he said. "But I've never heard anyone speak about this issue specifically. What will it have or offer that distinguishes it from other bars in the University area?”
The next step for Pedrotty and his team is to engage leaders of the Faculty Senate to ensure UNM faculty are on the same page as the administration and petitioners.
“We are very excited and invigorated by the support we’re receiving from the administration,” he said.