“Cheers to the Super Guy Association! What? Oh sorry, it is the Student Government Association.”
With hopes that the new administration might actually acknowledge the desires of students, the Student Government Association, SGA, acting on behalf of the student body organized. For the first time, a single SGA formed as the male and female organizations merged into a single entity with three officers of each gender (Student Handbook 1970-71, 7-8). They issued a campus survey concerning alcohol and drinking on Madison’s campus in the 1970 fall semester and a later edition of the student newspaper reported the results. It included responses from just over seventy-eight percent of the dorm residents. Eighty-three percent expressed the permission to drink in dorms (“Booze On Campus?” 1). By March, the SGA passed a formal resolution to present to Dr. Carrier and the Board of Visitors requesting a change in dormitory policies. The council recommended that dormitories be separated by age and “drinking in the mature dormitories [be accorded] with state laws of Virginia.” The very next resolution called for “3.2 beer” in the “minor dormitories” and the request for an ABC license to allow the sales of 3.2 beer in the new student center upon its opening (“SGA Seeks Approval,” 8). Dr. Carrier’s inaugural would not occur until December 1971 (“Carrier Sworn,” 1) yet the first call for alcohol had been placed. By April 1971 the call became reality. Students cheered the opening of the new Percy Warren Campus Student Center where the snack bar served 3.2 beer on tap (“Percy Warren Student,” 56-7).
The SGA took additional measures to establish a leadership role at Madison. In the fall of 1971, they took “control” of The Breeze incorporating it into a “subcommittee of the Communications Committee.” Furthermore, they entrusted the “selection or dismissal of the Editor and the Staff” to the Communications Committee and declared these “powers temporary until The Breeze is ‘properly reorganized.’” An underlined caption, “New Staff Needed,” directly above the article backed the SGA’s intentions (“SGA Gains,” 1). Historian Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz reports that students in the seventies veered from the collective student protest techniques of the sixties. Rather, the majority of students “merely grumbled” and relied on the leadership of a few, who acted as “legislators” not “demonstrators” (Lefkowitz Horowitz, 259). The SGA became the “legislators” for the student body concerning alcohol policies at Madison College and The Breeze became their platform.
The SGA continued to issue calls for liberalized alcohol policies throughout the seventies even though leaders continually changed as seniors graduated and freshmen entered. Historian Bruce Schulman speaks of “the prep school and private club set” in the 1970s (Schulman, 24). If the top echelon defines the establishment, then the SGA executive council’s relationship with the college president and top administrators appears to exhibit such a role. The first issue of the 1972 fall semester newspaper headlined “What is the SGA Doing For You?” Senator Steve Holstrom listed the “rights” to have alcohol in dorm rooms (Holstrom, 3). This suggests the SGA took credit for policy changes. Though females made up at least two-thirds of the population, the SGA executive council from 1972 forward retained a male majority (Bluestone). The boys systematically pushed for social reforms on campus.
Cover and top image: “SGA Gains Control of Breeze,” The Breeze, September 17, 1971, 1; “SGA Seeks Approval Of New Resolutions,” Genesis II, April 1, 1971, 8; “Percy Warren Student Center Opens Doors: Beer On Tap Photographs,” Genesis II, 4-5. Created by Charity Derrow, in Powerpoint, April 15, 2012. Unfortunately, this photograph of beer on tap in the Warren Campus Student Union was split between two pages in the spread, deleting a portion of the photograph. While the collage of news headlines and photographs have been placed together, the actual “Beer On Tap” photograph(s) has not been altered.
“Booze on Campus,” Genesis II, February 12, 1971.
Bluestone, 1970 – 1979. Accessed 3/20/2012 from http://archive.org/details/jamesmadisonuniversity. This information was collected by examining a series of ten volumes.
“Carrier Sworn in as Fourth Madison College President,” The Breeze, December 14, 1971.
Hostrom, Steve, “What is the SGA Doing For You?” The Breeze, September 5, 1972
Lefkowitz Horowitz, Helen, Campus Life: Undergraduate Cultures from the End of the Eighteenth Century to the Present, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.
“Percy Warren Student Center Opens Doors,” Genesis II, April 1, 1971.
Schulman, Bruce J. The Seventies: The Great Shift in American Culture, Society, and Politics, Cambridge: Da Capo Press, 2002.
“SGA Gains Control of Breeze,” The Breeze, September 17, 1971.
“SGA Seeks Approval Of New Resolutions,” Genesis II, April 1, 1971.
Student Handbook 1970-71, Harrisonburg, VA: Madison College, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia.