More bar restrictions not the answer

Last week, Champaign Mayor Gerald Schweighart, acting in his capacity as liquor commissioner, punished Joe’s Brewery, C.O. Daniels and White Horse Inn for repeated citations for underage drinking.

Although C.O.’s voluntarily pushing its entry age to 21 and suspending Joe’s and White Horse may seem harsh, do not be fooled, students. City officials and bar owners are just playing the same cat-and-mouse game they have for decades.

As these punishments go into effect this fall, the city of Champaign probably hopes to spark a public dialogue over the best system for keeping students safe. We ask: Are officials and police force really taking action to address it through these punishments?

We recognize that although Champaign has tried to make an effort recently with the underage drinking culture, with bar checks on various establishments and more apparently in police patrol and enforcement during Unofficial. But people continue to enter bars at 19, when they cannot legally purchase a drink.

One would be so naive to think that the majority of underage people go to bars to enjoy the atmosphere. To allow people under 21 in at all seems to be encouraging, or at least condoning, illegal behavior. If students are bound to drink, they should be able to experiment with it in bars where there’s some semblance of supervision than at parties where it’s easier to lose control.

Of course, that justifies one law with the assumption that people will break another one, namely the drinking age.

In most circumstances, laws are designed to achieve the best outcome, not to mitigate the consequences of breaking them. But are these punishments the first step in a long process to actually solve the problem?

The purpose of these actions by the city are to foster a safer environment for students, but we see little impact. When everyone returns to the University for the fall, will everyone really learn their lesson about safety with alcohol? Will we see the drinking culture change?

The impact of these punishments will mean that come August, underage students will discover they can still drink at nine of 12 campus bars.

The short-term impact of the increased entry age at C.O.’s will probably just be a shifting of their customers to bars with a 19 entry age. In the long term, C.O.’s might find that changing its niche to an upperclassmen crowd makes it a more attractive place, or it may find that business suffers.

We will further examine the benefits and drawbacks for student safety and alcohol consumption.

We call the city to action. They need to work on a vaccine instead of applying another Band-Aid.