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New W.I.L.D. alcohol policy advances changes started a decade ago

The progression of alcohol policy at W.I.L.D in the last 13 years.Chris Hohl | Student Life

The progression of alcohol policy at W.I.L.D in the last 13 years

While general inebriation may be a tradition as old as the event itself, adjustments to the alcohol policy at the wildly popular Walk In Lay Down concerts held in the Brookings Quadrangle each semester have been happening for years.

In 2003, Washington University’s administration took the final steps to ban kegs from the events, following through on what was a controversial four-year plan to limit how much alcohol that could be brought into the concerts.

Now W.I.L.D. is undergoing the most recent change to its alcohol policy: banning alcohol from the outside, including the six-packs of the past, and permitting students of age to get three free drinks inside the Quad. Kegs of Bud Light will be provided by Bob’s Liquor, the company used by Campus Programming Council for Happy Hours.

The beer is courtesy of Team 31’s fundraising and has been ordered to provide about 1,500 people with three drinks. There will be eight people serving beer in one corner of the quad, which Team 31 hopes will keep traffic from getting congested.

Administrators and Team 31 members hope that the new policy will help emphasize the show aspect of W.I.L.D. and possibly cut back on alcohol consumption to make W.I.L.D. a safer event.

“In terms of alcohol consumption itself, we’ll see if the policies make a difference,” Mike Saxvik, coordinator for the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership, said. “There’s definitely things that will not happen as a result: the 6 o’clock rush for beer. The cutoff was always a dangerous time because people were running and trying to gallivant across campus to a point where we saw a lot of injuries because people were running and already intoxicated or just not paying attention they’d get injured.”

“There’s also a lot of confrontations that took place between students who would try to bring in beer after 6.”

In the past few years, six-packs could be brought into the Quad any time before 6 p.m. but not after.

“Compared to where it was in the ’90s, I think the overall safety of event has gotten better. It still remains a high-risk event by any standard,” Saxvik said.

Saxvik said that looking back on those times, it’s important to remember that higher education institutions have only changed their stances on alcohol relatively recently.

“W.I.L.D. was well known for students getting together, bringing in couches, rolling kegs in,” Saxvik said. “There were no safety precautions put in place, nothing addressing that.”

The changes this year were motivated not by a wish for a safer alcohol policy, but by an attempt to get students more involved with musical acts, according to Team 31 co-chair Casey Hochberg.

“The alcohol policy change came as a result of splitting W.I.L.D. x between two stages to feature performances where the students will be,” Hochberg said, noting that Second Stage will be on the North Side at 3 p.m. this year.

With W.I.L.D. pushed back to 5:30 p.m. in the Quad, bringing in six beers would mean students had more beers than hours at W.I.L.D. Team 31 and the administration brokered the deal of 3 beers per person of age.

“We’re not incentivizing students to drink more, and we don’t believe that students 21-plus are going to be the ones to binge drink, so we’re providing beer free of charge to keep with the festival vibe we’re working toward,” Hochberg said.

Hochberg said that the policy will be evaluated after this W.I.L.D. and that Team 31 is open to criticism or suggestions.