Published in The Siskiyou, Southern Oregon University’s weekly student newspaper.
Wine is no longer served in the wine appreciation class.
Wine appreciation seminar, BA 407, started out with a lecture and then each student was given an ounce of the wine that was discussed. Generally, students would try two different types of wine in the two-hour course.
“SOU is not a dry campus,” said Jonathan Eldridge, vice president of student affairs.
Dave Harris, dean of business, who was in charge of the controversial decision that took place fall quarter, said that he was merely enforcing university policy.
University policy states there are specific designated areas that are pre-approved by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. The policy also states that a licensed server must serve the alcohol.
“We also want the class to more accessible for students,” said Harris.
Harris explained that now that wine isn’t served in the class, the age limit requirement for the course has been removed. Students under 21 years old have not enrolled in either quarter for the course yet.
Helena Verduyn, a senior, who is currently enrolled in the course, disagrees with the policy.
“You’re making a connection between what he’s saying and what you’re learning about how its processed and how it ages in oak barrels and then being able to taste the utter breakdown of the different flavors of the wine,” Verduyn said.
Professor of the course, Lorn Razzano, owner of The Wine Cellar and a licensed pourer, feels that tasting, although not essential, brings a lot to the course.
Harris said he hasn’t received any negative feedback from students about the new decision. However, Razzano said that many students have verbally told him their disappointment about the restriction.
“The evaluations are laced with very upset students,” said Razzano.
On the SOU website, the course description says that there will be on sight wine tastings.
Jennifer Krauel, who took the course last quarter, was disappointed and had originally assumed that wine would be served.
“Not having the wine in class is just pointless. All of us were 21 or older so basically it’s like saying we’re not responsible enough to have one sip of wine,” Krauel said.
According to university policy, Central Hall, where the class is located, is not pre-approved by the OLCC. However, Eldridge said that there might be another issue involved since there is a way to get around it.
“If the question is, is there a way that wine can be served in a wine class on campus, the answer is yes there is a way to do it, but the way might be in conflict with other things they’re trying to accomplish,” Eldridge said.
“There are ways to do it without violating laws or policies,” said Eldridge.
Liz Shelby, chief of staff and director of government relations, said that they currently reassessed the policy and made it tighter.
Razzano has been in the wine business for over 29 years in Southern Oregon and has taught at the university for about 10 years.
“You’re taking the colors out of the painting, you’re taking the reasons out of the fact and I think it’s a really sad situation. I think it’s profoundly short sighted,” Razzano said.
Chris Saunders, who is currently enrolled in the course, felt that to be able to taste the wine in class would make a difference.
“I really feel like I’m missing out on a huge portion of wine appreciation, you can’t just talk about it without understanding the complexity of the flavors,” Saunders said.
Vernalee Kennedy, who is studying for her MBA agreed with Saunders.
“It would totally make a difference, I think it is necessary, mainly because you’re loosing part of class, that way by not having the wine to taste,” Kennedy said.
“I think it’s a sad commentary for where education is going and I really believe that,” Razzano said.
The future of wine appreciation and whether or not wine will be offered in the future is still unknown. Liz Shelby commented that she likes the current structure of the class, which includes lectures, and visits to wineries on the students’ own time.
“What’s the point of having a wine appreciation class if you can’t even appreciate the wine in class,” Verduyn said.