Underage University of Iowa Students indifferent to 21-Ordinance

Brothers Bar & Grill, a popular spot for underage drinking.

Brothers Bar & Grill, a popular spot for underage drinking

The 21-ordinance has not stopped underage University of Iowa students from drinking in the bars; just when and how they drink.

When the 21-only ordinance went into effect June 1, 2010, underage patrons were no longer allowed in Iowa City bars after 10 p.m. However, students have learned to take advantage of the time the law permits them.

While sitting in the Share restaurant of the Sheraton Hotel a few weekends ago I noticed an alarming number of obviously drunk students in the pedmall that seemed to appear out of nowhere. Surprised by the increase of activity I asked my friend where they all came from. After checking the time-10 p.m.-my friend joked that it was probably all the underage students who needed to leave the bars to avoid receiving PAULA tickets. (Possession of Alcohol Under the Legal Age)

Amy Skarnulis, a UI junior who is not 21, said she goes to the bars early and leaves at 10 p.m. before heading to a private house party.

“Whenever we go to Brothers or Sports Column, it is obvious that everyone in there is underage,” she said. “At 10 o’clock the entire bar clears out.”

Skarnulis said the use of fake identification is still a popular method for obtaining alcohol inside the bars.

Hannah*, a UI junior who recently turned 21, said she was able to enter the bars underage with the use of fake identification. During her time as an underage patron she said she didn’t think the bars cared that there were obviously underage patrons inside drinking.

“I don’t feel as if the bars are nervous to have underage kids in the bars before 10 p.m. because it means more money,” she said. “If they don’t have fake IDs then they can charge them cover at the door.”

Magen Krones, a bartender at Bo James, said the bar has taken active measures to make sure underage students cannot patronize the bar.

“We have a doorman Wednesday through Saturday checking IDs, and he doesn’t let anyone under 21 in after 8 p.m.,” she said.

Krones said every of-age patron is given a mark at the door, which is then re-checked by a waitress or bartender before they can be served alcohol.

Bo James lost its liquor license for a month in summer 2012 because of multiple instances of underage patrons after 10 p.m. Bo James’ Karaoke Night, which is popular with UI students is when Krones said it had the most problems with underage patrons trying to enter the bar.

“To make sure we don’t have any more trouble in the future every employee takes an online course called I-Pact, to make sure that we all know how to properly check IDs and make sure they aren’t fake,” she said.

While Krones said that there is no underage drinking in Bo James, she agrees with Skarnulis and Hannah that it happens often in other bars. At the same time, Krones and Hannah said they have witnessed some bars announcing that underage patrons should leave before 10 p.m.

“At brothers they sometimes announce over the speaker on Fridays that it is close to 10 p.m., and for all the underage kids to leave,” Hannah said.

Krones experienced a similar situation after a show at Blue Moose that ended at 9:30 p.m.

“After the show they said over the PA system that all the underage people should leave by 10 p.m.,” she said. “They all left without any problems, and when the police came to check out the bar they didn’t need to give any [PAULA] tickets.”

*Hannah’s last name has been removed to maintain anonymity

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