On-campus restaurant serves alcohol despite 'dry campus' policy

The University said it checks IDs at the restaurant, but four State Press employees purchased alcohol and were not carded

The Downtown Phoenix campus Engrained Cafe, a restaurant on the lower level of ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor Law School, has a fully stocked bar in its restaurant. 

But ASU is a dry campus with strict rules against alcohol consumption and punishments to match.

“Residential Life students are prohibited from possessing or consuming alcohol, or hosting or being in the presence of others consuming alcohol in any of ASU’s residence halls or on ASU grounds,” the University's website says.

The policy applies to students who are over the legal drinking age as well, so even if a student drank alcohol at the cafe legally, they would still be violating residential policy by going back to the dorm. 

This means if a 21-year-old student drank alcohol at Engrained and walked across the street back into Taylor Place, they would be violating University policy. The fact that the downtown Engrained location serves alcohol seems to contradict this policy.

Engrained Cafe located in the Memorial Union on ASU's Tempe campus does not serve alcohol.

Jim Dwyer, director of auxiliary business services, said there are various factors that allow certain on-campus restaurants and food vendors to serve alcohol.

“ASU makes a determination based on factors like building location, purpose, and justification for the request," he said in a statement. "The locations on campus who serve liquor have business focused on serving faculty and staff or are venues which may be rented by the public for private events."

Dwyer said ASU does not approve liquor permits for sites whose primary audience is the student population. 

While there are other places around campus that serve alcohol, such as the University's Karsten Golf Course or the Pitchforks and Corks restaurant on College Avenue, the Engrained Cafe downtown is the only location listed on ASU's site that accepts Maroon and Gold dollars and serves alcohol.

The downtown Engrained allows the purchase of alcohol with M&G dollars if the patron is of drinking age. 

The restaurant serves a mix of graduate-age students, faculty and staff. The space can also be used for events, an ASU official said. 

The official said undergraduate students are welcome there, as they would be at any restaurant, though they have to be of legal drinking age to order alcohol. Waitstaff are trained to confirm that patrons asking for a drink are 21 or older, he said.

But when four State Press employees, all of whom were over the age of 21, purchased alcohol at Engrained, none of them were carded. One used M&G to pay for the drink. 

In addition, there is also a management system in place that is obliged to keep track of all alcohol at a location and make sure none of it is unaccounted for, the official said.

An ASU official said that Engrained downtown does not accept meal swipes, which are only for students. But, anyone with a Sun Card – faculty, staff, consultants, and so on – can add M&G dollars to their Sun Cards, so the campus currency is not solely for students.

Although anyone can get M&G, the vast majority of M&G users are students, the official said. 

William Everett, a journalism freshman, said he eats at the downtown Engrained often and has never seen anyone drinking alcohol, or even seen anyone staffing the bar. 

Everett said it is weird to him that students who live in Taylor Place are so close to a place that serves alcohol despite rules that do not allow students to consume alcohol, or even be under the influence. 

“It’s right across the street from the dorm,” he said. “I think it’s weird that ASU is a 'dry campus’ and yet they have a ... restaurant that sells booze.”

Reach the reporter at ajhowar6@asu.edu and follow @andrew_howard4 on Twitter.

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