Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Understanding SEMO's alcohol policy, consequences

Thursday, August 31, 2023
Graphic by Emma Kratky

As new students and returning students make their way back to SEMO’s campus they might need a refresher on certain campus policies.

With the popularity of partying at college, students may need to become familiar with SEMO’s alcohol policy. The university is considered a dry campus, and according to, “Dry colleges do not permit or serve alcohol on their campus.” The reasoning behind the rule mostly points towards the most common age of students living in dorms being under 21.

According to SEMO’s Business Policy and Procedure Manual, “the use and possession and/or consumption of alcoholic beverages on the campuses of Southeast Missouri State University without the express written permission of the President is prohibited.”

Vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Success Debbie Below said one of the main reasons SEMO is a dry campus is because Southeast is a residential university.

“If the vast majority of people that live at the university are under 21, then that’s something that we think about in terms of management of alcohol use on campus,” Below said.

Below said she thinks it’s important to revisit policies and “ask if they are still relevant” but has not been involved with any conversations about changing the campus’s alcohol policy.

While alcohol is not allowed on campus, it can be sold to people of legal drinking age at sporting events around campus. In 2019, the Board of Governors — then called the Board of Regents — approved the sale of beer and wine at home collegiate athletic events but not the sale of liquors and spirits.

“We remain committed to ensuring all of our fans have a safe and enjoyable experience and believe this approach will lead to more responsible consumption prior to and during our events,” vice president of athletics Brady Barke stated in the 2019 Southeast Arrow article.

Below said she remembers times as a student when alcohol was allowed at approved special events and views sporting events as an extension of that rule.

“I just think that it’s a continuing interpretation [of university policy],” Below said.

While SEMO has a set policy for alcohol, they also have specific resources for people with addiction to alcohol or for people who have been found on campus with alcohol. Substance Awareness Prevention and Education (SAPE) services are available on SEMO’s campus for any student in need of help.

SAPE graduate assistant Annie Cooley helps students referred to them by the Student Conduct office.

“Typically, we get underage students or students who are under 21. Those are typically the referrals we see,” Cooley said.

Cooley said when a student is found with alcohol on campus, it’s often in their living areas.

“Typically, it’s students who were drinking in their dorm and either the RA saw or there was a noise disturbance, and so they had to knock on the door, and there was alcohol,” Cooley said.

Cooley said the first step she takes in a case is to ask the student questions about their experience and intake of the substance in question. Cooley also said approximately 99% of the cases they receive are referrals, and most students don’t “come in on their own.”

She said the busiest time of year for SAPE is usually near the end of the semester, if someone has been referred to their office through the act of finding alcohol in the person’s dorm or otherwise.

“The way that the referral system works, you have a certain date that you’re supposed to come see me by and finish the program by. If you don’t, then there’s a hold placed on your account. So you can’t register for classes,” Cooley said.

SEMO students have various opinions on the issue of dry and wet campuses. Early in the Fall 2022 semester, a group known as Young Americans for Liberty started a petition to make SEMO a wet campus.

Entrepreneurship major Cassidy Klein was formerly the Young Americans for Liberty Missouri State Chair until she stepped down on Dec. 17, 2022, but still remains as a member of the chapter. Klein said the reason for the petition was not about drinking on campus but about advocating for safe drinking on campus.

“Kids are going to drink on campus. Regardless, I know many, many folks on SEMO’s campus that have been drinking in their dorms or go to their dorms, they’re drunk. And it’s more of a safety thing,” Klein said.

“I would much rather students who are of age have the opportunity to be able to drink in the dorms or the living area that they are staying in rather than going to the bars and walking home or drinking and driving home,” Klein said.

Klein said the petition received 526 signatures. Klein said she sent the petition with the signatures to the president’s office but never heard back.

Assistant vice president of marketing and ccommunications Tonya Wells stated the administration recieved the petition and there was no “formal” response from the President’s office.

Public administration major and graduate assistant Camille Shoals said she believes “if you’re legal, that’s your business,” but to “not be stupid” and read the handbook regarding to the policies surrounding alcohol on campus.

“Why don’t we just think real quick? It’s finals week, why are y’all drinking,” Shoals said. “If we’re going to be smart, then let’s be educated and smart, that’s why we do the MyStudentBody [program] every year for UI 100.”