Now They’re Drinking in the Dorms—Legally

In honor of our centennial, we’ve dug deep into a century’s worth of Alcalde issues to bring you a fascinating look at how the Forty Acres has changed over the years.


Now They're Drinking in the Dorms—Legally
In 1861, an English man of letters named Anthony Trollope was surprised and a bit confused when he attempted to belly up to the bar at a public hotel located on the grounds of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. They didn’t have one. Not only that, but he found the possession of any beer,  wine, or spirits meant instant expulsion for the lads at West Point. “Let us fancy,” he wrote, “an English mess of young men from 17 to 21, at which a mug of beer would be felon, and a glad of wine high treason!”

Some 112 years later, a newsperson from the Daily Texan was also surprised as she spoke to James Duncan, UT’s Dean of Students and Assistant Vice-President for Student Affairs. “Dean, I picked up this rumor and I know it has to be a rumor, but they say that students are to be allowed to have liquor in their rooms.”

To the delight of most Texan newspeople, many UT dorm residents, not to mention the shade of Mr. Trollope, the rumor was fact. As of September 1973, liquor was in, legally and openly.

The legality of it was tied to the Texas law that lowered the age of majority from 21 to 18, and the openness of it was a relief, at least to Dean Duncan. For generations housing administrators have been saddled with largely unenforceable rules.

The situation became more difficult two years ago when dormitory residents were first allowed to have refrigerators in their rooms. Nobody really believed that Kool-Aid and cold milk were all that would go into them, yet that had to be the official stance.

Today, that stance has become much more honest and realistic, and it may have other happy attributes. So far under the new rules, there seems to have been fewer disturbances because of liquor.

“In the long run,” Dean Duncan maintains, “allowing liquor in the rooms will probably mean much less rowdiness. Instead of killing whatever is left in the bottle before bringing it home, students can save it for the next party.”


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