With the Liquor Control Board keeping a watchful eye on campus bars, the managements of many popular hangouts are trying to crack down on underage drinking. The resourceful, crafty student will probably always be able to find a way to drink at his or her favorite campus establishment. But faced with the prospect of heavy fines or loss of their liquor licences, owners and managers are taking steps to reduce the number of under-21 patrons gaining access to their bars. 'The Law Says 21' In July, three campus hangouts were among 104 Philadelphia bars included on a list of problematic bars which state police submitted to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board after a rash of raids. Smokey Joe's Tavern, Wizzard's Lounge and Hava Nagilia Restaurant -- whose address is the same as the High Rise Bar and Restaurant -- were included on the list. All three will have hearings in October to determine whether or not they may keep their liquor licenses, and what type of punishment, if any, should be imposed on them. And Eden, a restaurant on Chestnut Street, was fined $5000 this summer for advertising discount alcohol prices. Local restaurant and bar owners insist that the LCB is specifically targetting bars frequented by students, since that is where underaged drinkers are most likely to be caught. But State Police Sergeant Jack McGeehan, who heads the area branch of the Liquor Control Board, said that his main concern is enforcing the law. "The police don't have an axe to grind," McGeehan said. "I don't care if people agree with the law. The law says 21." McGeehan denied that his officers target popular student bars just because it is easy to catch underaged drinkers there. "It is not easy to pick-up students," McGeehan said. "Getting kids in the bar was a duck shoot. It is very difficult." McGeehan said that the rash of raids in a short period of time is normal. "Several bars that are very close will probably be hit at the same time," he said. "If one bar gets hit in the evening then three or four bars can expect a visit." Cracking Down Owners and managers at almost every bar on or near campus said that they are cracking down on underage drinking, rather than risk fines or loss of their liquor licenses. "We do everything we can do," said Roger Harmon, one of the owners of the Palladium Bar and Restaurant. "We hire two or sometimes three bouncers." Bill Pawliczek, owner of Cavanaugh's Restaurant on 39th Street, said that he teaches his doormen about the alcohol laws and has a book which shows samples of driver's licenses from each state. Smokey Joe's owner Paul Ryan Jr. said he is asking more students to sign affidavits that their identification is authentic. He also said he patrols the bar's back doors more, employs older doormen and videotapes all activity at the door. Smoke's has started a "VIP" program which allows patrons to obtain a card which proves they are of legal age to drink at the bar. After showing proper identification to get the card, the student can just present it at the door and gain immediate entrance. High Rise's owner, who asked not to be named, said that since his bar was placed on the nuisance list, he has taken many steps to monitor underage drinking. Employees are instructed to take identification and make the holder sign an affidavit that they are of age to drink. If the identification appears suspicious, they are not to accept it. 'Neighborhod Nuisance' The Liquor Control Board considers a bar a "neighborhood nuisance" if it has a long history of code violations and demonstrates an "insensitivity to its surrounding area," McGeehan said. A bar must have three violations to be classified as a nuisance, except in certain extreme cases such as the selling of narcotics, for which one violation will earn the nuisance label. Smoke's was placed on the state police list after receiving four citations for serving alcohol to minors. Wizzard's made the list because of complaints from neighborhood residents and what McGeehan called a "long history of lewd and immoral entertainment violations." High Rise was cited three times for underage drinking this licensing year, which ends October 31. The LCB will hold hearings, beginning October 3, to determine whether or not the bars on the state police's list are in fact "nuisances." At the hearing, a judge will consider the establishments' past history and what owners are doing to comply with LCB regulations. The judge will make a recommendation to the LCB, which will decide what to do. Punishments range from a fine, to suspension of the establishment's liquor license, to no action at all. LCB officials make follow-up visits to the establishments to ensure they are complying with the law. Bring Your Own Some say that the Interfraternity Council's new "bring your own" alcohol policy may drive students to off-campus bars and parties, which would increase pressure on the bars. The BYOB policy dictates that guests at fraternity parties may bring a maximum of 12 cans of beer, and must present proof of age to professional bouncers before entrering with the alcohol. Both Greek and non-Greek students said the BYOB policy will force fraternities to throw smaller parties and hold more mixers between fraternities and sororities. This would close off the fraternity social scene to many students, and force many non--Greek students to go to off-campus parties and local bars for entertainment. "I see there is going to be a shift of people going to bars," said Eric Newman, assistant director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs. But Newman added that only those students who go to fraternities simply to get drunk will now turn to the bars. Students who go to fraternity parties to be with their friends will continue to attend them, he said. And students seem to agree with Newman's prediction, indicating that off-campus bars will get busier -- and be forced to be more cautious -- as the semester continues. "I will start going to bars more often," said College freshman Scott Rosen. Rosen's comments were echoed by many other students, including one freshman who said the BYOB policy contradicts his original impression of the University as a "frat-party school."Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.