For some Pomona College students, the days of arriving at PUB or the Boot only to find that the kegs have already been tapped may be ending. Following a proposal from Pomona’s new Associate Dean Chris Waugh, beer and food will now be available for purchase through the Sagehen Café at some Pomona parties, in addition to the free beer that has long been offered at these events.
Although the concept is still being tested, parties hosted by the fraternities Sigma Tau and Kappa Delta and by the organizers of Junior-Senior Social have begun to offer beer and food for sale by the Sagehen Café, an independent food vendor with a permanent storefront in the Smith Campus Center (SCC). In the past week, Sagehen Café employees sold refreshments at Sigma Tau’s Boot and Kappa Delta’s PUB.
The Sagehen Café, unlike Pomona College, is able to sell alcoholic beverages because it has a California liquor license. While the Sagehen Café will handle all alcohol sales at Pomona events in the immediate future, some students and administrators have discussed applying for a college liquor license, which would allow Pomona to sell beer to students without involving an outside vendor.
Waugh, who came to Pomona this year as Associate Dean of Students and Director of the SCC, said that he proposed selling beer at parties after speaking with students who felt that free kegs were running out too quickly. The free kegs are paid for by the organization hosting the party or by the Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) Alcohol Fund.
Waugh said that last Friday’s Boot, which was hosted in Doms Lounge and was the first Pomona party to offer additional beer for sale, seemed to succeed at creating a “real-world environment” for drinking.
“My agenda is to listen to students and to do what we can to enhance their events,” he said. “If students are engaged with these changes and excited about them and they’re making their events even better, then it’s a win-win.”
Sagehen Café General Manager Cheryl Yarck also said that the Boot was an encouraging test run, since it benefited both her business and the students who attended the party.
“We want to be able to give a service to the students, and that’s what we’re supplying,” she said. “They want unlimited beer and that’s what we’re going to supply to them. We’ll do it every week if that’s possible.”
Former Sigma Tau President Jeff Levere PO ’12 was a strong advocate for Waugh’s proposal, arguing that having beer for sale, in addition to one or two kegs offered for free to students, makes for a more realistic drinking experience.
“In the real world, the beer never runs out,” Levere said. He pointed out that in the past, Sigma Tau tended to run out of free beer about halfway through its parties, encouraging students to show up early and drink quickly.
SCC Assistant Director John Lopes added that Pomona’s old practice, in which only complimentary beer was served at parties, helped to create a situation that was not only unrealistic but bizarre, given Pomona’s proximity to the Claremont Village’s expensive bars.
“This is the only place in the free world, maybe, that students can drink free beer for a couple of years, and then a mere 500 yards away from campus, end up going to pay four dollars for a beer or six dollars for a mixed drink,” Lopes said.
Levere said that he was strongly in favor of Pomona getting its own liquor license. He added that he hoped the college would consider selling a variety of alcoholic beverages, including mixed drinks with hard alcohol, in order to encourage responsible drinking.
“If you have [hard alcohol] available at parties, it disincentivizes people to do shots in their room,” Levere said.
Waugh said he was open to the possibility of Pomona obtaining a liquor license, adding that bringing in beer for purchase had already put Pomona on a path toward safer parties, since students will no longer feel that they need to race to the keg.
“One of the things that I was hearing over the summer was that at these events, because everyone knew that there was just one keg and it ran out quickly, there was a concern that students were drinking really quickly so that they could drink as much [as they could] before it ran out,” Waugh said of past Pomona parties.
Yarck said that the Sagehen Café is prepared to provide beer and food service to Pomona parties for as long as the school does not have its own liquor license. She added that the café is legally allowed to sell alcohol at no more than 13 events per semester, and that there is currently no plan to sell alcoholic beverages other than beer.
Yarck also said that Sagehen Café servers will soon go through Training in Intervention Procedures (TIPS), an alcohol safety course administered by Pomona and many other institutions. Lopes said that anyone who serves alcohol at Pomona is usually required to complete TIPS first, but the college is currently making an exception for the Sagehen Café employees, who are subject to California’s “stringent guidelines” about alcohol safety.
Nu Alpha Phi, or “Nappy,” is the only Pomona Greek organization with no plans to have alcohol for sale at its parties. According to the president of Nappy, the co-educational group felt no need to provide beer for sale due to the lack of a perceived need for additional beer at its parties.