Shut the Door, Grab a Beer

Not only did this take patience, someone drank the beer.  Signs of alcohol on campus begin appearing in yearbook photos in the 70s (“Beer Pyramid”).

Solo produced “its signature red cup”  in the seventies – a must have for beer pong (“Celebrating”).

A SGA officer declared that by the 1972 opening season of football “alcoholic beverages will probably be allowed in students’ rooms” (Robertson).  He was right.  The 1972–1973 handbook explicitly stated:  “Individual residence hall rooms are the ONLY areas other than the Campus Center restaurant where alcohol beverages may be consumed.”  It further detailed that all other areas of the dorms, including halls, recreation areas, and kitchens, do not meet “the definition of residence hall rooms” (Student Government …1972-1973, pp. 20-1).  The initial alcohol regulation permitted the sale of beer in the Percy G. Warren student snack bar.  When the state lowered the drinking age to eighteen in 1974, the Madison College administration’s policies changed giving students the right to consume alcohol in the privacy of their rooms.

President Carrier and his administration chose to support the alcohol policy acknowledging that students were already imbibing (Carrier, March 14, 2012).  A 1971 SGA student survey revealed that seventy-nine percent of the respondents consumed alcohol, fifty-six percent drank in the dorms and seventy-six percent wanted the “beverage rule changed” (“Booze,” 1).  Certainly, yearbook photographs depicting students with multiple alcoholic containers support the survey findings (see above photograph).  Prior to the alteration of Virginia’s drinking law, the majority of students did not have the legal right to drink anything other than 3.2 beer.  The changes in law redefined the campus environment.  Now, the majority of students were legal adults with rights to drink.  Therefore, the clearance for alcohol in the privacy of dorms seamlessly followed the sales of 3.2 percent beer in Warren.


Images Cited:

Cover and top image:  “Beer Pyramid,” 1972 Bluestone, Harrisonburg, VA:  James Madison University, 1972, Accessed April 8, 2012 from Side caption on cover image added by Charity Derrow, in PowerPoint, April 9, 2012.

Works Cited:

“Booze on Campus,” Genesis II, February 12, 1971.

“Celebrating 75 Years,” Solo Cup Company, 2012,  Accessed 4/15/12 from

Carrier, Ronald, Dr. “Class Lecture,” History 337 Local History Workshop, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA, March 14, 2012.

“Robertson, Gary, “Madison College Development Reaches Full Flower:  Football,” Richmond Times Dispatch, Control #PU88-1015, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, May 7, 1972.

Student Government Association Student Handbook 1972-1973, Harrisonburg, VA:  Madison College, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia.