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Board OKs student-led move to allow alcohol sales at South Dakota university athletic, performing arts events

While the updated policy provides institutions with the flexibility to expand alcohol sales, events must meet specific criteria.

Students celebrating
Students at South Dakota State celebrate after a touchdown during a 90-6 blowout over Arkansas-Pine Bluff in 2018.
Hunter Dunteman / Mitchell Republic
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VERMILLION, S.D. – Fans in South Dakota will soon be able to enjoy the big game with a beer in hand next school year after the South Dakota Board of Regents approved a new alcohol policy this week.

During their June board meeting in Vermillion on Wednesday and Thursday, the South Dakota Board of Regents (BOR) unanimously approved an expanded alcohol sales policy for the state’s public universities.

The policy allows the six universities governed by the Board of Regents to extend the sale of alcoholic beverages into general admission areas of performing arts and athletic events. The policy does not affect private universities and colleges.

The student-led effort to expand alcohol sales to general admission areas began with a South Dakota Student Federation letter, composed by leaders in student governments, urging the Board of Regents to change the current alcohol sales policy, which limited alcohol sales to specially designated box seats or loge areas.

"This change came from a request from South Dakota public university students," said Brian Maher, executive director of the BOR. "We're seeing a move towards general admission alcohol sales at collegiate events across the country; it seemed like a good time to revisit South Dakota's policy as well."

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While the updated policy provides institutions with the flexibility to expand alcohol sales, events must meet specific criteria.

Events with authorized general admission alcohol sales must have a defined start and end for alcohol purchases. Alcohol sales must be separate from general concessions, and each event must include at least one alcohol-free zone.

Anyone engaged in selling or serving alcoholic beverages at these events must be trained to recognize fake IDs, prevent service to minors, identify signs of intoxication, and how to handle disorderly customers.

While the new policy will take effect at the start of the 2022-23 school year, public universities are not required to implement general admission alcohol sales at campus events. That decision will be left to each individual campus.

Full guidelines regarding the updated alcohol policy is available on the BOR’s website.

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