It seemed like a rubber-stamp kind of item, the somewhat procedural approval of a liquor license application for the Bryce Jordan Center.
The Penn State board of trustees only needed to give a nod to the application, which is expected to be given the final go-ahead by the state next month.
But then Betsy Huber spoke up.
The agricultural trustee was the first voice of outright opposition to a proposal many have been anticipating, the case-by-case possibility of beer and wine sales at select Jordan Center concerts and events.
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Huber spoke out when it was brought up for a vote after Thursday’s unanimous approval by the legal and compliance committee. She said she thought it would contribute to the university’s continuing problems with alcohol abuse.
The intersection of alcohol and questionable or criminal behavior has been a regular problem at most universities, but Penn State has a reputation as a party school, with a student-created drinking holiday, State Patty’s Day, on top of typical issues with tailgating and binge drinking.
Huber’s voice drew more to her side. The measure ultimately passed, but with enough nays to require a roll-call vote. Six others voted with her, including board Chairman Keith Masser and his frequent outspoken opposition, Anthony Lubrano.
“I appreciate the support I got,” Huber said. “I still think it’s a bad idea.”
University officials have said liquor sales are necessary to compete for certain concerts and shows, but said student and academic events would never be approved for liquor.
The license will have a test drive in the upcoming Garth Brooks concerts. Originally planned for two shows May 1-2, on Friday, the Jordan Center announced an expansion to a total of six shows, three over April 24-25 and three on the original dates.