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Student groups tap keg fund for events

Funds are now on tap for groups looking to provide alcohol at on-campus events, thanks to a keg fund being piloted this Fall by Duke Student Government.

Administered by the Student Organization Finance Committee, the fund allocates kegs to chartered organizations on campus that wish to host events with alcohol but cannot otherwise afford to do so, said SOFC Chair Alex Crable, a junior.

University-chartered groups are those clubs and organizations that are directly funded by DSG and do not include fraternities or selective living groups.

The purpose of the fund is not to sponsor section parties or similar events, Crable said, adding that the idea behind the program is to use alcohol as a supplement to existing events.

"One of the big things we look at is whether an event could exist without the presence of kegs," he said.

He added that University-licensed bartenders will be present at all events with DSG kegs so that alcohol will not be served to underage students.

Funding for the kegs, which is set at $3,000 for the pilot period, does not come from student activities fees but instead is taken from a $120,000 budgetary surplus account held by DSG.

The fund was used once last Spring at the DSG presidential debate, but it drew little attention. Student interest has increased, however, since DSG sent a mass e-mail to students this Fall informing them of the availability of funding.

This semester, one organization has hosted an event with DSG kegs and another has a project in the works.

Last Wednesday, Duke University Improv kicked off the keg fund's test semester at their first West Campus show of the year, "Pizza Pies and Funny Guys." The evening featured a DUI show, free pizza dinner and, thanks to DSG, beer.

DUI member Matt Manocherian, a senior, said having kegs contributed positively to their event.

"It wasn't the center of the event but it definitely added on to it and enhanced the experience for a lot of people," he said.

Senior Mariel Strouse, who attended the show, expressed a similar view.

"I think it's great to have events on campus that promote social drinking as opposed to excess," she said.

Later this Fall, Engineers Without Borders will provide kegs at a "Beers Around the World" station of the Octoberfest event next month.

But EWB member Lee Pearson, a senior, said one should not overstate the significance of serving alcoholic beverages.

"It's similar to having food," he said. "It's just another item that brings people."

Funding alcohol at student events is not new to Duke. In the past, University organizations have been able to apply for funding for alcohol through Campus Council, said senior Ryan Todd, the body's president, adding that he felt the new fund was unnecessary.

Crable, however, pointed to SOFC's larger budget and centralized role in event planning for most groups as reason for the separate fund.

Some administrators said they are cautiously optimistic about the fund's potential.

Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek said the fund should be closely watched and its effectiveness assessed, but she lauded its potential contribution to campus culture.

"If it provides an opportunity for students to come together and create community then I see that as entirely positive," she said.

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