Doltish things we pay for: Part I

Should the University of Wisconsin and City of Madison pay for a position to control the drinking and parties around campus? Well, it doesn’t really matter what you think. Welcome to the office of the Alcohol Policy Coordinator. Ironically, UW students pay double for the position as both students of the University and taxpayers in the city of Madison.

Given the city’s fear of the so-called “Wisconsin drinking culture,” both the University and city have felt the need to appropriate funds to help control where and when alcohol is consumed. For this reason, the position of Alcohol Policy Coordinator was created in 2005. The Alcohol Policy coordinator is a city level mayoral aide position with the express goal of controlling drinking and partying.

One just needs to look at a budget to understand where the city’s priorities lie. Even today, as robberies, muggings, and murders run rampant on campus, a bureaucratic position for underage drinking takes precedent. Given its high ranking at city hall, the Alcohol Policy Coordinator makes over $50,000 dollars a year in addition to roughly $10,000 in benefits. While students are paying with tuition and taxes, the university only pays just under $30,000 – what a bargain! It’s great to know that in a time of tight budgets, we are paying for unwanted attention instead of helping to further our schooling by retaining world-class quality professors.

Starting three and a half years ago, Joel Plant became the city’s first official Alcohol Policy Coordinator. Working under the auspices of both the University and City Hall, Joel was tasked with setting all policies regarding alcohol in the city of Madison. This included working with the Alcohol Licensing Review Committee, developing police policies regarding parties at private residences, and developing new ordinances to control excessive drinking.

Today Katherine Plominski is the Alcohol Policy Coordinator and has made ‘Class A’ liquor licenses one of her top priorities. Ms. Plominski, who believes that liquor licenses are merely a privilege, works with the Alcohol Licensing Review Committee and has helped guide the draconian Alcohol Density Plan. The Alcohol Density Plan, which seeks to control drinking problems by limiting licensed establishments in a certain areas, has already proven itself to be a dagger pointed at the heart of local businesses around the campus area. First passed in 2007, the Alcohol Density Plan will sunset in 2010 unless reauthorized by the Madison Common Council. We can only hope that Ms. Plominski understands her position should not be focused on the creation and enforcement of new policies like the Alcohol Density Plan, but rather on working with students to reduce dangerous behavior.

Before we simply deem this position as another tuition dollar sinkhole, perhaps we should looks at its effectiveness. According to PACE, an anti-drinking group funded by University Health Services, approximately 56% of the student population engaged in binge drinking in 1998. Today, over three years after the Alcohol Policy coordinator position was created, the binge drinking levels are estimated to be as high as 67%. Either the Alcohol Policy coordinator is secretly trying to get us drunk, or the policies are outright failures.

Overall, we are not advocating banning groups that support and promote a healthy drinking culture, but we do ask public entities to keep out. Students on this campus are legally adults and should be treated as such. Perhaps students should finally ban together to keep our elected officials subservient to us and not the other way around.

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2 Responses to “Doltish things we pay for: Part I”

  1. Sam Adams Says:

    “The Alcohol Policy Coordinator is secretly trying to get us drunk”

    Interesting concept…what a great way to keep students from caring about city and campus politics

  2. How does that X-mas carroll go? 3 brand new CB items? « Says:

    […] Wisconsin Lounge once asked why we pay money to give the Alcohol Policy Coordinator of Madison a salary. I’m starting to […]

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