Clevenger is a first-year broadcast news major and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first time I went to the bars, my goal wasn’t to drink. I wanted to dance with my girlfriend, because that’s what she wanted to do.
Walking to a nearby bar, there were people shouting from the sidewalks and their cars — behavior reminiscent of a midnight “Harry Potter” film release or a crowd gathering for a big concert. But no, these people were shouting because they were in the process of getting their drink on. I left.
I have always been one who upheld the law. However, not all Drake students share those standards. Neither do the owners of the campus bars, as there is a horde of students who every week enter the bars despite being underage. They get in using fake IDs ranging from professionally made to being drawn with a crayon on the back of a Starbucks card. I feel that with the enforcement strategy the way it is around local bars, either would suffice.
Because of my opinions, I feel isolated, as I assume others on campus do. Friends argue, “Just go, we won’t get caught. If you aren’t even drinking, no one would care anyway.”
Do students drink because it’s the only way they can have fun? Don’t tell them that — you’ll get an extremely defensive counter-argument. So if there are other ways to have fun, why run the risk of partaking in an illegal activity? Let’s look at the repercussions:
Possessing someone else’s ID is not illegal.
Apparent intent to use another’s ID is a small fine, no jail time and a 30-day suspension of the license.
Misuse of a driver’s license (belonging to another) carries similar fines, but the suspension is increased to six months.
Possession of a fake ID (using it or not) has a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,875, though the actual penalty would likely be closer to $315, plus court costs, resulting in a total of roughly $500.
You could do a lot of things with $500.
Logic dictates that this is an uncalculated risk, however small the odds of getting busted. Why are these students compelled to go out then?
Is it because of the excitement of the risk? Yes, let’s reinforce that stereotype. I like to think we aren’t all drunken hooligans shouting from the sidewalks.
When someone says they drink to protest the law, I chuckle a bit. By protesting through drinking, you mock the democratic process. Intelligent, educated people who were elected to their positions put this law in place.
Partaking in an illegal activity is not a way to change the law. The participants of the Boston Tea Party would have loved to consume the tea instead of throwing it in the river, but that wouldn’t have proven anything. Granted, they were willing to go to war over it.
Students should write their state representatives and senators to lobby for change. Students should peacefully protest. No one can convince me that by getting his drink on, he is protesting the 21-year-old age law. Those arguments just fuel the fire in favor of the law.
Do I think this drinking law is unreasonable? Maybe. Do I believe in upholding the law? Yes. It’s something I encourage Drake students to consider and take real action about. Lobby to get the law changed. Move to enforce an 18-year-old rule in the campus bars with X’s on the hands so we can still hang out late at night. Push to open more student-friendly late-night hangout spots, whether it’s jazz clubs or pool lounges. But don’t risk a ticket, don’t make everybody look bad, and don’t trick yourself into thinking you’re being an engaged citizen by going out to the bars on a Friday night.
Maybe I wouldn’t get caught, but I still have respect for the law. Regardless of whether or not the bouncer or cop busting the bar cares that I’m in there, drinking or not, I still feel a need to adhere to the fact that it is a 21-or-older establishment, which means I can’t yet dance with my girlfriend.