Oregon bill to permit alcohol in culinary classes prompts discussion of enforcement for minors

Allowing alcohol in high school may seem unlikely, but a bill recently passed in the Oregon House of Representatives would do just that, in certain circumstances.

House Bill 2750 would allow alcoholic beverages to be used in public education culinary arts classes under the caveat of adult supervision and only if safely stored when not in use.

“If Oregon’s policies on culinary education, and the regulation of alcohol in general, are out of line with those in other states, I suppose we should reconsider those policies,” said Jennifer Burns Levin, instructor of literature at the Robert D. Clark Honors [email protected]@

Levin specializes in food studies and teaches a class on food history and literature. She also writes about food for local papers.

Several other states, including New York, Virginia and Massachusetts, already allow for the use of alcohol in culinary arts classes.

Though this bill focuses on high school culinary arts classes, a bill was passed earlier this year to allow for the use of alcohol in higher education culinary classes, as well.

Oregon Liquor Control Commission Government Affairs Director Tom Erwin said as long as the curriculum does not include the tasting of wine, there are no laws being broken regarding the minimum drinking age of [email protected]@[email protected]@

Because the University does not offer culinary arts courses, the bill would not have a direct effect on alcohol policies. The University would still maintain its current policy of not allowing alcohol consumption for minors.@@THIS IS [email protected]@

However, the possibility of the EMU installing a bar as part of its remodel underscores some of the same concerns with allowing alcohol in culinary arts classes for high school students: finding a way to adequately enforce alcohol use for minors.@@THIS IS [email protected]@

ASUO Sen. Janet Brooks @@ spent the last two years talking about the building’s impending EMU remodel with its board of directors and collecting student surveys. The matter of the remodel has moved on to a user group, which will take a look at the various plans put together by architects and find one best suiting the need of students.

“A lot of campuses do have bars available on campus,” Brooks said. “A drawback would be the alcohol for underage students. We could limit the amount people who drink, but there are potentially intoxicated people on campus.”

When the EMU Board started looking into remodeling the space, one of the first things mentioned was putting a bar into the new student union.

“I think every person would be carded going into a place like this, no matter what,” Brooks said.

Some of the ideas that are being looked into to stop underage drinking include examining the policies of other states and countries with lower drinking [email protected]@So to clarify: We’ve gone from culinary arts to U of O bar to underage drinking. I’m confused@@

Brooks said in earlier discussions about the remodel a finishing date was set for 2015.

Rep. Brian Clem introduced HB 2750 on Jan. 11, at the request of Salem attorney Bradd [email protected]@ @@[email protected]@

The bill passed through the House and has since moved on to the state Senate, where it is currently being looked over by the Education and Workforce Committee.

Oregon School Board Association Legislative and Public Affairs Specialist Lori Sattenspiel said when she first heard about the bill allowing the use of alcoholic beverages in high school culinary classes her “immediate reaction was ‘Oh no, teenagers and alcohol.'”@@[email protected]@

Rep. Betty Komp, who is on the House Education Committee, said, “I have serious doubts whether schools can keep the alcohol in a safe place. I have dealt with too many situations with children with addictions.”@@

Swank testified before the House Education Committee on March 7 to explain why he feels this bill is [email protected]…/hb2750swank03072011.pdf@@

Swank said one high school cooking instructor thinks “there is a benefit to, and value for, his students to be able to work at the higher level of culinary professionalism this step represents.”

The bill would allow school boards to make the decision on whether or not to allow alcohol in their district and specify the circumstances under which the alcohol may be used. A parent or guardian’s signature would be required for students to participate in the class and alternate projects would be made available to those who do not have parental consent.

“My personal opinion is that it’s fine to trust our local educators to provide educationally valid experiences for students. That’s their job,” Levin said. “What Oregon legislators really should be focusing on is finding a way to fund our schools and support our educational infrastructure.”

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