The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees discussed a proposed new policy Friday afternoon that would return alcohol to campus in limited ways.
Trustees are expected to vote on the proposal at their June meeting.
Under the policy, student organizations would have to register in advance with the Office of Event Planning in order to serve alcohol, and identifications would have to be checked at any events where alcohol is served; no alcohol would be allowed in residence halls; and alcohol could be used in fraternity houses at roughly two events per semester. (Sororities typically don't allow alcohol, officials said.)
According to presentation materials, UK's goals are to reduce binge drinking as well as "student interactions with our judicial process," law enforcement and health care.
"This has been a decades old struggle, and quite frankly in the United States, we haven't made a lot of progress here," President Eli Capilouto said. "There will not be one intervention that will solely make the difference, but totally banning it from campus was not making the difference here. This is a step."
The new policy would be measured and adjusted based on results from the previous year.
UK officials have worked on the new policy for the past year. Based on an annual survey of students, they found most drinking took place off campus.
"We're trying to encourage students to do it on campus in a monitored environment, as opposed to off campus in an unmonitored environment," said Robert Mock, vice president of student affairs. "We're hoping this step is a step in a positive direction."
The survey of UK students also found that 65 percent had consumed alcohol before coming to school. About 25 percent were identified as high-risk drinkers.
UK banned alcohol on campus in the 1990s, a move that has been blamed for causing disruptions in surrounding neighborhoods.
Robin Michler, president of the Aylesford Neighborhood Association, which borders campus, said neighbors are cautiously optimistic.
"I think the general sentiment when we saw the draft was positive, but we want to see how it's actually implemented and if it's flexible enough that it works," he said.
Jacob Ingram, the outgoing student government president at UK, worked on a task force that crafted the policy. He said students, including members of the Greek system, were involved throughout. But he cautioned that the new policy would not suddenly stop student drinking.
"It's an incremental step forward," he said. "There's not a silver bullet."