By Emily Renteria
We have always been discouraged from breaking the rules, but now the city of St. Joseph has had to deal with some rule-breakers.
St. Joseph residents and bars are looking at a potential increase of alcohol violation fees, specifically for underage drinking. The penalty for a minor’s first violation is currently set at $150 and $500 for bars, but the St. Joseph City Council is likely to make some changes after 10 years of neglecting to revise these sanctions.
According to CSB Vice President of Student Development Mary Geller, there is a bar in our community that has had two citations for underage drinking and are being held accountable. If a third citation is issued, the establishment will face a hefty fine as well as the suspension of their license.
Geller makes it clear that this is “[a] business issue, not St. John’s/St. Ben’s.” Yet, this does become an issue when “[Our] students are disrespectful of police. That cannot be tolerated,” Geller said.
St. Joseph Police Police Chief Joel Klein also offered his observation on the matter.
“When you have a fine amount that is low, is that really going to make a
difference?” Klein said.
“$150 is [already] a lot of money [for a college student], and if $150 didn’t do it for some students, those are students who can afford more,” Geller said.
Besides fines, there may be other things having an effect on underage drinking.
Conrad Sampair, a St. John’s junior, has worked as a bartender at La Playette, St. Joseph for almost two years. During his time on the job, he has noticed a lot fewer students at the bars.
“[Students] are a lot more afraid of drinking,” Sampair said. “Police have made their presence known.”
Michael Wagner is a SJU senior who bartends at The Legion.
“Cops have stopped by The Legion three to four times this year to check IDs,” Wagner said. “[That’s a lot more than in] previous years.”
The real problem that is being stressed by the institution and the St. Joseph Police is the irresponsible behavior—abuse of alcohol consumption and efforts to avoid consequences.
The effects of this behavior are being seen in the wider community of St. Joseph.
“We are seeing increases…of people getting seriously hurt or dying because of binging on alcohol…It comes down to doing things in moderation and being safe,” Klein said.
Geller points out the complexity of the issues regarding alcohol consumption.
“If the drinking age were lower, it would help with the issue of underage drinking in college. However…it would not begin to touch on the irresponsible use of alcohol,” Geller said.
“I know St. Ben’s and St. John’s students make knowledgeable, conscious decisions,” Sampair said. “If they choose to drink, students must be willing to take responsibility.”