Review: “Ariadne, I Love You” by J. Ashley-Smith

I got this book as an ARC in exchange for feedback for the publisher. Its release date is July 20.

Dark and skin-crawlingly uncomfortable, “Ariadne, I Love You” deals people who are falling apart with very little explanation as to why. Although, it is what you may expect from a guitar-toting, philosophy major burnout who falls in love with angry, monologuing women.

This novella has hints of inspiration throughout, occasionally surprising readers with a clever metaphor or use of foreshadowing. The writing is sophisticated and displays a range of vocabulary and good understanding of theming. If anything, the writing is overly descriptive, particularly of the environment and actions of the characters. Very rarely does Ashley-Smith crack into his characters’ heads and give insight into the emotional rationale behind their self-destruction.

When we do have a glimpse into the thoughts of our protagonist and narrator, Jude, it’s in the context of deeply distressing dreams about his friend’s wife, Coreen — the woman he loves. Coreen’s monologuing about philosophy was entertaining, but her character was unstable, with no indication from our narrator as to which version of her was the true version.

This novella is about a man who is projecting his fears and insecurities onto a dead woman. This is hardly a spoiler — it’s perfectly evident throughout where the plot is heading (although there are dark and unexpected scenes on the way there). The author even seems to come to that realization himself in the final pages of the book, but I’m not convinced he wrote the entire narrative with that final recognition in mind.

April reading roundup!

Did April seem to drag on forever for anyone else? Some days I felt like spring was here, and other days it was literally snowing again. The bright side of this month was that I got to do a lot of reading!

I read seven books this month across a wide variety of genres, making stats pretty pointless. So, let’s just crack into it with my ratings and reviews.

The Veldt, Ray Bradbury: OK, this is technically a short story, but I have included it to recommend it. This is about a family living in an automated house, which has a nursery that allows the childrens’ imagination to determine the setting for play. Like most Ray Bradbury stories, the technology breaks bad. I actually revisited this story from my elementary school years, and I remember having to write an extension for the cliffhanger ending. I’m so glad I did because as technology changes, these stories only become more interesting and terrifying. Bradbury published this story that smartly deals with AI/smart devices in 1950! ☆☆☆☆☆

The Hating Game, Sally Thorne: Guys. I have only recently become a romance reader. Red, White and Royal Blue reformed me last year, but not many have truly lived up to my romantic expectations since then. This novel did. Lucy and Joshua spend their days working across from each other, and hating each other. I don’t want to spoil a thing about this story, but I will say that it is sweet and steamy. One of my favorite parts of romance stories is how the author chooses to bring the flirting into a unique setting, and the paintball scene in The Hating Game is unmatched. ☆☆☆☆☆

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Edward Albee: I picked up this play from a used book store early in the month. Plays are often some of my favorite reading material, and I was excited to read this once I found out it was a source of inspiration for the Dinner Party episode of The Office. I did enjoy parts of this play, but ultimately didn’t care for any of the characters. It’s hard to write a synopsis because this story is really about the secrets the characters are keeping. So, what fell flat for me was missing the asides and monologues that give you insight into what a character is feeling. Albee intentionally obscured everything from the audience, and it just wasn’t for me. ☆☆☆

Written in the Stars, Alexandria Bellefleur: Another very sweet romance for the month of April! I listened to this audiobook over the course of a few rainy/snowy days, which ended up working well with the holiday setting. Elle and Darcy, after a disastrous first date, attempt to pull off a fake relationship — mostly to get Darcy out of having to go on speed dates with her brother. I mentioned The Hating Game’s paintball scene earlier — one of my favorite scenes in this novel was a date in an escape room. I thought this story was sweetly written and while it took me a while to like the characters, I did grow to love them by the end, and a few scenes left me misty eyed. My main issue in this story is the reliance of the fake-dating trope, which I think could have been played more creatively. ☆☆☆

The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home, Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor: I am a HUGE Welcome to Night Vale fan — I drove hours to attend the book tours for the first two novels and have been listening to the podcast since 2013. I love the weirdness of Night Vale and its inhabitants, as well as the way their characters invoke both humor and empathy for the audience. I thought the first two novels carried the writing style of the podcast well into a very different format. So, it’s with a heavy heart that I say this book fell flat for me. This is the backstory of the Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home, a character from early in the podcast. It is an adventure story, a tale of revenge and a coming-of-age. Very little of the book actually takes place in Night Vale, which is not a bad thing inherently — but I do feel what the universe is known for was missing from this book. ☆☆

Let the Right One In, John Ajvide Lindqvist: Horror is one of my favorite genres, but I do tend to be very emotionally affected by the stories I read, so I can’t read horror all the time. This book was a perfect example of why — it terrified me. If you don’t like body horror or gruesome deaths, this is not the story for you. Some scenes from this book will stick with me for a very long time (if you’ve read it, let’s talk about the public pool scene). Parts of this story dragged, simply because I could not imagine an ending that gave me any hope for the characters. The first and last 25% were absolutely un-put-downable (new word alert), and characters like Virginia made it a worthwhile read. ☆☆☆☆

In Five Years, Rebecca Serle: I listened to this novel in one day. It is fairly short and is an excellent audiobook production. This is another story that I don’t want to give too much information about because I’m leery of spoiling it. The main character and narrator, Dannie, has her whole life planned out, from the perfect job to the perfect relationship, for the next five years. This story follows her throughout that time period. I loved Dannie’s character — and probably found her a little too relatable, as a capricorn. Whatever you are thinking going into this story, it’s probably not that. Be warned that I was weeping at my desk by the end. ☆☆☆☆

Thanks for reading this roundup! Let me know what you read this month and what’s on your tbr for May. If you want to keep up with my reading between posts, follow me on Goodreads.

Classic!: “A Separate Peace”

Note: As a general rule, I’m not concerned about spoilers for this blog. I’m going to talk about the ending and twists for any book I read, so, spoiler alert.

I think by the time we read “A Separate Peace” in my junior year of high school, I had seen “Dead Poets Society” too many times.

You know, the group of boys who are totally unprepared to face the real world, form a secret society with performance rituals, and feel their friendship blossom just before a tragic accident takes away the charismatic leader of the group, who is also the person you least expect to die — if you would ever really expect that from a classic boarding school story.

As a quick summary, “A Separate Peace” takes place over the course of one year, summer to summer, at the Devon School, a boarding school in New Hampshire. The novel primarily follows Gene Forrester, our narrator and protagonist, and his friendship with Phineas, or “Finny.” The boys’ friendship is revealed during the first summer with “blitzball” and the Super Suicide Society of the Summer Session, both activities of Finny’s creation. Gene begins to suspect that these games are an attempt by Finny to distract Gene from his academic studies.

At a meeting of the Super Suicide Society at the end of the summer, Gene and Finny climb a tree over the river, where boys at the school usually practice jumping from a sinking ship as a wartime preparation, and Gene “jostles” the branch where Finny is about to jump. Finny falls to the shore and shatters his leg, rendering him unable to play sports, at which he truly excels.

When Finny returns to school — after Gene has visited him and confessed to intentionally knocking him out of the tree, a confession which Finny does not accept — he has rejected the reality of the war, claiming it is a ruse by men in power to manufacture shortages and fear. Another friend, “Leper” Lepellier, a sensitive boy, signs up to join the army and receives a Section Eight discharge from service after demonstrating psychological issues. When Gene goes to visit Leper, he is confronted with the fact that Leper knows he knocked Finny out of the tree intentionally. Having finally recovered his friendship with Finny, Gene angrily leaves Leper at his home.

Several other boys, in an attempt to stop coddling Finny on the matters of both the war and his disability, arrange for a late night trial of Gene, who they jokingly believe intentionally broke Finny’s leg. When Leper unexpectedly shows up at the trial Finny remembers that he and Gene were in the tree together on that fateful day and runs from the room. Encumbered by his still healing injury, he falls down the marble stairs of the building and causes another fracture.

After Finny is transported to the hospital wing, Gene visits his room. Finny tells Gene he doesn’t believe Gene had any ill will toward him in the tree during the summer. Gene tells Finny he doesn’t believe he would have been any good in the war, even without a broken leg. The two reconcile just before Finny is sent into surgery, during which a piece of bone marrow escaped into his bloodstream, stopping his heart and ending his life.

Unlike in “Dead Poets Society,” in John Knowles novel, there is no dependable adult who helps Gene, Phineas, and Leper figure out what life is all about. Instead, they have the war. A character in itself, World War II exists in the novel as a setting, character and theme wrapped into one. It is the war that necessitates a coming-of-age for these students, rather than pursuing their own passion or destiny in the “real world,” their duty is more important for the Duration.

It occurs to me only after writing extensive notes about the role of WWII in Knowles’ novel that while reading this in high school, I never considered the war as anything more than a background setting to the story. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

If this novel was a horror story, the war — not Gene, with his underlying insecurities and rage, which I’ll delve into more — would be the antagonist of the story. Far off at the beginning, the boys can live a carefree summer. Page by page, however, the reality of the war creeps nearer. It claims Leper Lepellier, and just when it might seize our narrator, Phineas returns to ward it off, to minimize it and momentarily destroy it. By the end of the book, without Finny to shield Gene and the Devon School, the war has infiltrated campus completely, housing troops and sewing machines for making parachutes.

“As I crossed the Far Common I saw that it was rapidly becoming unrecognizable … and also certain less tangible things: a kind of snap in the atmosphere, a professional optimism, a conscious maintenance of high morale. I myself had often been happy at Devon, but such times it seemed to me that afternoon were over now. Happiness had disappeared along with rubber, silk, and many other staples, to be replace by the wartime synthetic, high morale, for the Duration.”

“A Separate Peace,” pp. 201-202

It helped me, in reading this, to recognize the war as the true antagonist creating tragedy for our cast of characters — mostly because many times throughout the novel our narrator, our assumed protagonist, serves as a deeply negative force. Bildungsroman is a deeply personal genre when you are, in fact, coming of age. Perhaps as a high schooler it is just easier to identify with Finny’s good-natured likability and ignore the fact that he and Gene are foils, and cannot exist without the other. No man has only Finny’s success without any of Gene’s jealousy. There is no charisma, good humor, or likability without underlying superiority, entitlement and rage.

In the end, Gene becomes a fully realized character seemingly through absorbing Phineas’s positive character traits. Reading through this time, I struggled with whether I should take this transformation literally — if Knowles truly meant for us to understand that Gene took parts of Finny through their friendship and his early death. The more likely alternative is that Gene simply learned lessons from the parts of Finny that contrasted his own nature until he finally was shaped into a man with good and evil inside.

Although Gene ends the novel with reflecting on the evil of men, to which he says only Finny’s heart was immune, it is clear in their final conversation that Finny’s heart could be corrupted by more than his own bone marrow. Through the lies he has told about the war and the world around him, it becomes evident that Finny has told lies about himself and to himself. I mostly found Gene and Finny’s final conversation to be quite gratifying (even knowing the ultimate conclusion), but I also consider it to be the one place in which Gene’s unreliable narration combined with Finny’s lies to himself combine to leave questions unanswered. Does Finny really believe that Gene was acting on “blind impulse” in the tree? Does Gene also believe that it wasn’t personal, or is he taking an escape from guilt Finny is offering? I would like to see into Finny’s brain, but this is the genius of Knowles’ use of Gene overthinking — the audience, too, is forced to decide if they believe what Finny is saying, or if they believe what Gene thinks about him.

” ‘I’ll hate it everywhere if I’m not in this war! Why do you think I kept saying there wasn’t any war all winter? I was going to keep on saying it until two seconds after I got a letter from Ottawa or Chungking or some place saying, ‘Yes, you can enlist with us.’ “

“A Separate Peace,” pp. 190

I found my re-read of this classic novel to be much more enlightening than I remember in high school. If you decide to pick up this novel for the first time — which I highly recommend! — I would encourage you to not give too much credence to questions that may arise about Gene, Finny, and which of them arises as the “better person.” You’ll be in for a much more enjoyable read if you allow every character you encounter to possess good and evil — and the capacity for growth. That’s what coming of age is really about.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this novel! I tried to keep this post to just one or two big themes that I felt guided my reading, but I have many more thoughts about these characters and this story. In the meantime, thanks for reading!

P.S. — I have already started on the next classic for this series, which is Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening,” so be on the lookout for that!

Classic!: An Introduction

I think anyone who knows me will say that I seem like the kind of person who loved high school English. Luckily for me and everyone around me, I have toned down in young adulthood, but in middle school and high school especially I was incredibly emotional. So, yes, I loved high school English class.

But also, I was very good at high school English class. Here are a few traits that made me very good at high school English classes: 1. I considered myself a writer, and wrote nearly constantly; 2. I read quickly and hungered for books; 3. I knew there were no right answers.

I’m not sure if my high school English teachers would agree with my last point, but it certainly felt true then and has continued to feel true throughout my humanities education. If you can read a book or essay, think up any sentence or metaphor about what the author is attempting to convey, and find four quotes from the text proving that point — you’re golden. Of course, people will pull different quotes for different conclusions, making it very hard in humanities subjects to say anyone is definitively “wrong.”

Unfortunately for my teachers and my peers, this secret understanding of how English classes evaluate knowledge likely made me completely insufferable. In ninth grade, bitter about having been made to read “Tom Sawyer,” I wrote my 4-page essay positing that Tom’s younger brother represented God. I did not reread this essay — which was certainly forced, self-impressed and annoying — for the sake of this blog because if I did, I firmly believe I would melt into the earth out of sheer embarrassment. Ms. Plonski, if you ever read this post for some reason, I’m sorry for subjecting you to that.

My dislike of “Tom Sawyer” is the perfect segue into this post, and this project. I loved high school English, true, but not every text we consumed. And my reasoning for (loudly) disliking one text each semester ran the gamut. For “Huckleberry Finn” (sorry Mr. Twain!), there wasn’t a likable character in sight. The racist story and racist language in “Heart of Darkness” was totally repugnant. My disdain for “Macbeth” was completely inexplicable, as I loved “Othello” and “Much Ado About Nothing.” I couldn’t even tell you why I refused to finish “Cold Sassy Tree,” “The Awakening” or “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.”

I had less strong feelings about what I read while in college, and truthfully I barely read anything at all. The rare book in my coursework was interesting, but I still struggled to hold my attention for chapters at a time while other schoolwork and my responsibilities at the student newspaper lurked. After graduating in 2019 and starting a job I could more easily compartmentalize, I started reading for fun again. I read 36 books in 2020 — mostly new releases.

So, the long and short of it is that I want to dedication some of my reading time this year to rediscovering and writing about some of the books that made me love reading in the first place. I’m starting with books I didn’t enjoy in high school — in particular “A Separate Peace,” John Knowles’ wartime, coming-of-age, boarding school novel.

As time goes on, I would also love to read the books you hated (or loved!) reading in high school. Despite the tentative name I gave to this series, they don’t need to be “classics.” (Looking at you, “Curious Incident”!) This project is a re-examination, yes, but I’m also hoping to expand my knowledge beyond what ye olde white men of yonder times, who we so often revere in literature, have written.

I hope if you have recommendations, you will send them my way! If you’re interested in following me on this journey, you can sign up for notifications about my blog posts.


Well, everyone, we’re back where we started — a post about me. I’m just here now to reflect a bit on this semester, specifically my capstone class, and consider some of my strengths and weaknesses. With any luck, I can channel “7 Habits of Highly Successful People” and turn those weaknesses into strengths.

First and foremost, taking this class has been a tremendous learning experience for me. Much of my time in newsrooms has been at a desk — editing and reading stories, but not really writing them. Being forced to walk around and shove an iPad in people’s personal space from bars to tailgates has not only shown me that I can write stories, but that I like reporting more than I thought I did. I’ve also worked with multimedia before, but mobile multimedia taught me a lot about making do with what you have, and gathering more images, more videos, more audio than you can possibly use.

One thing I know about myself that is both a strength and a weakness (I promise I won’t do another of these) is that I am a perfectionist. What has continuously kept me away from writing is the feeling of not doing it well enough, and not getting another chance to make it right. I had to let that go this semester. Perfection is a myth. None of my stories were perfect, but they were accurate, fair and interesting.

That said, my greatest strengths certainly still lie in the “behind the desk” work — copy editing, design, video and audio editing (rather than gathering). Although these skills are technical strengths, they also all involve the critical asset of finding the story within all the information.

Even after this class, the main weakness in my journalistic skills I want to improve on is information gathering from human sources. I tend to hesitate to push people to give me more information unless I can tell they’re withholding something from me. I want to make sure I’m working in each interview to get the most specific information I can, never sticking simply to the prepared questions I brought with me.

Nonprofit gives fermentation sciences students professional brewing experience

While education majors drive to schools around the region for student teaching, and nursing majors commute to hospitals around the state for their clinicals, nonprofit brewery Ivory Tower is helping fermentation sciences students find professional experience in their field while at Appalachian State. 

“One of the great things about the [fermentation sciences] program is that it teaches a lot of the background knowledge to troubleshoot issues that you would find in the beverage industry, but it does lack a little bit of hands-on experience,” said Garrett Williams, Booneshine head brewer and fermentation sciences graduate.

Ivory Tower, a private 501(c)(3), started in 2012 around the same time the fermentation sciences department became a degree-granting program. The nonprofit cannot be affiliated with the state-funded university because it sells alcohol, but serves “to support research and education in fermentation sciences in general, and more specifically for our program at the university,” said Brett Taubman, director of the fermentation sciences department and president of Ivory Tower. 

Grants fund more than researching wine and beer — one student used the funds to study bioprocessing. Another is studying how different food fermentations affect the genetic fingerprinting of ecosystems. 

For students who don’t receive research grants, like sophomore Bill Gilmer, Ivory Tower’s connection with local breweries provides an avenue for internships and work experience. Gilmer interned with Booneshine Brewing Co. during the summer, where he applied classroom learning to cleaning kegs, mashing wheat and canning the final product.

“I think it helps to not only have the knowledge but have a small bit of experience to accompany it,” Gilmer said. “In my opinion, you can read a book and learn how to do something, but until you actually do it, you don’t have the appreciation or you may not fully grasp how to do it.”

During his internship, Gilmer helped the Booneshine brewers lead fellow App State students during Ivory Tower “brew days.” Brew days allow students to create a beer from start to finish with the help of Taubman and local master brewers. Most brew days take place at Booneshine, where Ivory Tower houses its fermenter, but the nonprofit also partners with Appalachian Mountain Brewery and Lost Province.

Graphic describing the beer brewing process

Although students perform the brewing process, Taubman works with the brewery owners to come up with recipes that will work in their facilities. For example, he took inspiration for the Black Saturday beer from his wife’s chocolate rye cookies. Other university-themed beers Ivory Tower has produced are Really Bitter Faculty, an American IPA, Afermentive Action, an American Brown Ale, and All Nighter, an American Stout.

Because not all fermentation sciences study brewing, Taubman said Ivory Tower is looking to expand beyond alcohol. Its next step is food fermentation.

“We’d like to start with fermented hot sauces because we feel like that’s a good, easy avenue into that industry that people love,” Taubman said.

Before Ivory Tower can get its hot sauce into the marketplace, it’s looking for local restaurants to provide commercial kitchen space for the fermentation process. Taubman acknowledged it’s no coincidence that working with food rather than alcohol would provide greater potential for entrepreneurial opportunities with the university.

“It’s definitely cleaner when it doesn’t involve alcohol,” Taubman said. “There are still a number of hurdles, safety issues and so forth that you have to do when you’re working in the food industry, especially fermented foods.”

Until then, Ivory Tower will rely on beer profits and the High Country Beer Fest to support the student research grants. The HCBF is Ivory Tower’s largest revenue generator, and both executive boards are made up of multiple fermentation sciences professors. The event is also largely put on by student volunteers from the department.  

“I think it’s a really positive, really crucial thing to start getting experience,” Gilmer said. “Being afforded the opportunity of going ahead and getting to see what happens on the inside and getting to be a part of it, seeing how actually the rest of your life will look, I think is really valuable.”

On Debra Mason and Religion Reporting

I have to say, religion is the beat that intimidates me the most. I grew up in a Presbyterian church, went to church camp every summer since elementary school and still consider myself a Christian, although I don’t frequent a church anymore. I think what’s worrying about religion is that it is so deeply personal. As we discussed in class, how do you hold someone accountable to their soul? To what they believe? Simultaneously, reporting on religion as an institution seems disingenuous, and as though it ignores the participants of that group.

Debra Mason’s insights on the field and what religion reporters have done well helped me better understand the role of religion reporting. Often, it seems, the best religion reporting is based on other news events, but reported with a religious sensitivity. For example, the Tree of Life shootings in Pittsburgh were reported on as a shooting first, but opened the door for more conversations about Jewish faith rituals and anti-Semitism.

I think in particular, looking for more stories with a religious eye would be beneficial for small-town newspapers, which often have churches as a center for their communities. When I worked at the Charleston Gazette-Mail in West Virginia this summer, reporters were covering the misuse of funding by the diocese to remodel his home. Meanwhile, however, the “Religion” section was mostly essays from readers and wire service stories. Of course, the reporting on the diocese was phenomenal, and stories that expose wrongdoings are important from any position of power. I do think, however, that strong religion reporting, like the examples Debra showed us, unite communities and display humanity, not the worst parts of religion.

Sustainability from Coast to Coast: How New Belgium created a zero-waste brewery

The number of craft breweries in the U.S. has increased by ten-fold since 1991, when New Belgium opened its doors in Fort Collins, Colorado. New Belgium has made itself distinct from emerging breweries by maintaining 100% employee ownership and focusing on sustainability in brewing.

Learn more about New Belgium’s sustainable practices and its Asheville location with this graphic.

On Ethan Joyce and niche reporting after college

Ethan Joyce, an App State Athletics beat reporter for the Winston-Salem Journal, came to our capstone class on Oct. 24 to give insight about sports reporting, developing sources and advocating for yourself in a work place.

The fact that Ethan shows up to practice and games every week for his beat really shows through in his reporting as well as his presence in the public eye. (His Twitter presence is something to truly look up to.) With all the helpful advice he gave, the simple acknowledgement of giving so much time and energy to one beat is something that will follow me as I enter the workforce. I think about other reporters who I’ve seen uncover a huge story — but it took showing up for court day after day, or for no-news town council meetings. Getting to know your audience and sources so they can trust you as a person, not a journalist, is an important factor in finding the important stories that elevate uncommon voices.

I appreciated how transparent Ethan was about the newsroom culture and having to put free labor into a journalism job much of the time. I have such a hard time gauging what life will be like after college, because half the time journalists want to talk about how the industry is failing and how they’re in a bad work environment. The other half work for more financially secure organizations, I suppose, or just don’t want to seem discouraging. I think what’s difficult in journalism is maintaining some sense of security. Like Lee said, I have seen plenty of people — on Twitter, alumni from my internship, etc. — jump from job to job, always seeking some big break. Working for a regional paper is nice because you can focus on an area, a distinct community to serve. But have we been conditioned as journalism students to expect excellence eventually? Not everyone goes to the Post or the Times.

Overall, I’m impressed with how Appalachian State grads have jumped into a field of uncertainty and very little thanks head-first. I hope I can fearlessly do the same after graduation.

Brews in Kidd Brewer

How beer sales have affected Appalachian State football games

Appalachian State University football consistently defies expectations on the field. House Bill 389, however, may have come up yards short of a touchdown for the first three games of 2019.

Gov. Roy Cooper passed HB 389 in June, which allowed UNC Systems schools to sell beer and wine at athletics facilities. While drinking brews in the tailgating parking lots, parents and students speculated about large profits and reduced illegal activity at games.

“Most of the adults, parents and visitors are all over age, and if you don’t sell it in there, they’ll just take it in there in mini bottles or something like that,” said James Lucas, whose son is a freshman at the university. “And, it creates a lot of revenue for the university.”

Attendees no longer have to stuff their pockets with liquid gold to keep their buzz, but gold isn’t exactly flowing into the pockets of App State Athletics. At the season opener on Aug. 31, fans bought 6,030 cans of beer. Cans are $7 for domestic beers, like Miller Lite, and $9 for local beers from Booneshine and Appalachian Mountain Brewery. AMB’s Yosef Golden Ale, crafted specifically for Appalachian football games, constituted 35% of beer sales.

Despite the thousands of cans sold, Joey Jones, a communications director for App State Athletics, said profits are marginal, especially compared to the department’s $25.1 million revenue in 2018.

“We’ve been pleased with the sales but it hasn’t been a dramatic, huge turnout of beer sales that will somehow spike our revenues,” Jones said. “We realize that it’s going to be a minor revenue generating thing, but more so that it’s an in-stadium amenity that we can give fans.”

Although students and parents speculate at tailgating about the reasons behind App State’s implementation of beer sales, university officials set the record straight about profits and crime rates after the passing of House Bill 389.

Some tailgating students said they were hesitant to pay the high prices for in-stadium alcohol. Jones said the pricing was strategic.

“The prices we set are standard across a lot of college and professional venues,” Jones said. “Some of the pricing model is to make sure that we’re not selling it so cheaply that it is easy to over consume.”

Athletics met with University Police and the university’s risk management department in the preseason to ensure a safe game day experience. Alcohol vendors are trained to sport false identification and officers keep under-age visitors away from the long lines. Guests can buy only one beer per transaction.

Data from University Police shows that alcohol responses at games have remained largely stagnant compared to past seasons. Police chief Andy Stephenson said the alcohol sales haven’t warranted additional staffing, although the game days are a mandatory work day for all University Police officers and student cadets.

An infographic element showing arrest rates across three home game season openers

“We didn’t have to bring in additional personnel to staff the stadium venues with this new policy in effect, but we realigned what we were doing,” Stephenson said. “We did want to have some eyes and ears with radio capabilities close to those points of sale in case there was a problem.”

Stephenson said the largest hurdle for police and fans alike has been the stadium’s infrastructure.

“This was not built for a Division 1 FBS football powerhouse that’s drawn 30,000-35,000 people here for games,” Stephenson said. “This was built for an FCS Division 1 AA 5,000-fan type of contest.”

Jones said App State Athletics knows the concourse has experienced increased crowding, but attributes it to a combination of construction, regular concessions and beer sales. When construction on the new end zone facility is complete Jones said fans will be spread around the stadium, reducing crowding in the concessions area. It may be a Hail Mary, but athletics employees strategize after each game to address visitor concerns in hopes of taking HB 389 into the end zone.