MU seniors bring back beer to Senior Sendoff

While it wasn’t the first time beer was absent at Senior Sendoff, last year’s alcohol-free celebration received pushback from students.
The tradition of handing out beer for graduating seniors returned this year at Senior Sendoff after it was banned at last year's event.

The first and last memories most MU students make on campus involves walking through the columns.

As freshmen, they participate in the annual Tiger Walk, hosted by the Mizzou Alumni Association, that acts as a welcome to new students. Four years later, the seniors walk away from the steps of Jesse Hall, representing their emergence into the “real world.” The newly initiated alumni are then greeted with a pint of cold beer. That tradition was discontinued last year, but after efforts of two MU seniors, it’s being brought back on May 6.

Senior Sendoff has been held without beer in the past, but this year there was pushback from students. Alumni Association Executive Director Todd McCubbin said concern about the links between alcohol abuse and sexual issues on campus had been a large factor in the decision to stop serving beer.

“A lot of things on campus may support an alcohol culture, even if they don’t mean to,” McCubbin said. “We don’t want to unintentionally support an alcohol culture on campus by having beer at Senior Sendoff. So when we went through all of that discussion, we decided not to have beer.”

When serving beer was discontinued for 2015, then-Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin said that it detracted from the standards of MU.

"[This decision] reflects the times we're in and sends the right message,” Loftin told KOMU last May. “It shows people that Mizzou is a place where we can have fun, but we're here to educate our students, do outstanding research and serve our state and our nation in so many ways.”

The festivities were still held as scheduled, and McCubbin said the attendance did not dip due to the lack of provided alcohol. But many students voiced their disapproval of the association’s decision to remove the provision of beer from the ceremony. One of those students was Veronica DeStefano, now a senior.

DeStefano pointed out that not having free beer would not stop students from drinking. During last year’s alcohol-free event, she said, seniors still brought beer and also drank before the event as opposed to after it, which hindered the purpose of it.

“They got belligerently drunk before the event and obviously that’s not what the event should be about.” she said. “They just got too crazy.”

DeStefano said that she and her friend, senior and Maneater staffer Katherine Knott, decided to go to one of interim Chancellor Hank Foley’s weekly Chats with the Chancellor to bring up the issue. DeStefano and Knott proposed that Senior Sendoff restart the ticket redemption system that it used in the past in order to ensure that students do not get overserved. With the redemption system, DeStefano said, students receive a voucher for a free beer and redeem it at a concession stand.

“[Foley] was pretty much on board right away,” DeStefano said.

McCubbin said Foley emailed the Alumni Association about his support for bringing back beer at Senior Sendoff, but did not pressure them to bring it back. DeStefano said she understood that trying to get a free beer at a campus celebration wasn’t the most pressing matter.

“We knew it wasn’t the most important thing to worry about, but we just thought it would be a fun thing to try to get back if we could,” DeStefano said.

McCubbin was not opposed to bringing beer back, but he said wanted to ensure that it was reinstated properly. Campus leaders approved it, and after the association ensured the event would be properly staffed, the association decided to bring back free brews to seniors at Senior Sendoff .

“We listened to our students,” McCubbin said. “They came out and basically told us that they thought that having a beer would be a good part of the event.”

Edited by Claire Mitzel |

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