Bars may be restricted on Unofficial

By Patrick Wade

The Champaign City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday night giving Mayor Gerald Schweighart more power as liquor commissioner to control the flow of alcohol in the Campustown area.

The ordinance, which passed 7-1, is intended to deter students from celebrating Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day.

With his expanded powers, Schweighart may restrict sales of beer in pitchers, undiluted shots and kegs to control and slow the process of binge drinking.

Schweighart said that he intends to order that no one under age 21 check IDs at bar entrances in order to stop those under the age 19 from entering.

Schweighart may also restrict bars from opening earlier than 11 a.m., but he said he is unsure of whether or not he will exercise this power. Last year, bars were not allowed to open early, but Schweighart did not believe this was significant in controlling drinking.

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Schweighart said that he is not opposed to students enjoying themselves and having a good time, but they have to control themselves.

“Just partying with some common sense (is important) and not coming out with the mindset of getting blown away,” Schweighart said. “That seems to be the attitude of this party, and God only knows what can happen when you go out and do that.”

The council also unanimously passed a “nuisance party” ordinance which aims to put more blame on party hosts. The ordinance gives police more authority to disperse apartment and house parties and issue citations to hosts.

“If you’re going to host a party and there’s 200 or 300 people there, knowing that you’re going to jail if things (get out of control) might make you stop and think ‘Maybe I don’t want to hold the party at my place,'” Schweighart said.

Dist. 5 Councilmember Ken Pirok, the only member to vote against the Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day ordinance, said that he does not believe the new powers given to the mayor will be effective in controlling the festivities because students will find a way around the restrictions. Rather, he said the city should embrace and contain the event.

“By having an event that’s fun but controlled, that might make it more safe just by doing that,” Pirok said.

Schweighart also said that he does not believe the new ordinances will be effective in controlling Unofficial because of the students’ determination.

“Students are very creative and have a mind of their own,” Schweighart said. “So any roadblocks that (the city) puts up they’re going to find a way around them.”