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College hopes to pop corks

Presence of Academy of the Canyons precludes use of alcohol during social events at University Cente

Posted: May 15, 2009 8:51 p.m.
Updated: May 16, 2009 4:55 a.m.

College of the Canyons officials say the school’s soon-to-be-completed University Center will sparkle — but like a crown jewel, not like champagne.

Alcohol can be served to those of legal drinking age at events at other spots at COC, and on other college campuses. But the college’s $38 million crown jewel must remain dry because it will house the Academy of the Canyons high school, making it subject to some K-12 school laws.

But that may change.

The community college and state Assemblyman Cameron Smyth are behind a proposed law that would allow people to drink alcohol at the college’s university center once it’s finished in the next couple of months. The legislation, known as AB 172, is working its way through the state Assembly.

“We have a considerable amount of money invested in the building,” said Eric Harnish, director of external affairs for the college. “To get the most out of it, we need to get the flexibility we need to do different kinds of events in there.”

The college campus is home to dozens of fundraisers, many of which involve wining and dining, for the college’s foundation and other groups and charities.

Those familiar with the SCV’s social scene say a touch of booze is sometimes a necessary ingredient.

“When you have wine at the event, it adds an element of class and elegance, rather than giving soda and water,” said Shelley Hann, 53, of Valencia.

Hann, who sits on or heads several nonprofit boards in the Santa Clarita Valley, said she frequents many charity events and parties.

Some strictly serve non-alcoholic beverages. Others are more her style.

“I have a lot more fun when I drink a little bit of wine,” Hann said.

“I also don’t get paid; that’s why I need a glass of wine,” she joked.

Hann and Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Larry Mankin said they’ve seen plenty of civic events that involve liquor and they’ve never seen it cause any problems.

“I don’t see COC serving a couple of glasses of wine at a fundraising event ... being an issue at all,” he said.

“It’s part of the social fabric that makes this community what it is,” he added. “It’s just part of who we are.”



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