Underagers barred from pubs

AAA program suspended as rising infractions threaten liquor licence

Bruce Griffiths, director of residence and hospitality services, shut down the AAA program, pending a review. Twelve violations have occurred this school year.
Bruce Griffiths, director of residence and hospitality services, shut down the AAA program, pending a review. Twelve violations have occurred this school year.
Photo: 
Clark Hall Pub is one of three campus bars that formerly allowed underage students as non-drinking patrons on specific nights.
Clark Hall Pub is one of three campus bars that formerly allowed underage students as non-drinking patrons on specific nights.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

Underage students hoping to socialize in campus bars will have to find a new hangout after the All Ages Access (AAA) program was suspended indefinitely on Dec. 7.

Bruce Griffiths, director of residence and hospitality services, who suspended the program, said the rising number of violations were beginning to jeopardize the University’s liquor license.

“For the amount of people participating in it, there were a disproportional number of violations in it,” he said. “When you see a lot of violations, it certainly is worrisome.”

The AAA program has had a total of twelve infractions this school year alone, according to an AMS press release. Four violations have been prosecuted by the AMS Judicial Committee so far.

The majority of the violations were students forgetting to retrieve their student cards from StuCons at the end of the night, Griffiths said.

He said representatives from the campus bars approached him about the uncomfortable level of risk associated with this number of violations.

“Having an AAA policy is always a risk. If we made the assumption that even half of those people [who] didn’t pick up their cards were actually drinking, we could have a license suspension if an inspector came in and witnessed underage students drinking,” he said. “That is [twelve] huge risks for the pubs. They were no longer comfortable with those risks.”

AMS Food and Entertainment Director Julie Hirst said the decision to suspend the program was made because Clark Hall Pub and TAPS staff and StuCons felt the program was not working.

“All three who are most affected by it recognized there were some significant problems that needed to be addressed before we could reopen it,” Hirst said.

She added the suspension may not be the best solution and the program is currently pending review.

“I think as it stands right now it is probably our best bet until we can review the program,” Hirst said. “Given the number of infractions we have had so far, I think it is really important that we evaluate the program before we put our campus liquor license at risk.”

In 2003, the campus liquor license was suspended for 12 days. Griffiths said although the suspension was limited to the QP and unrelated to the AAA program, it still puts the campus at risk for even greater consequences.

“The fact [is] that we have had a previous suspension, [and] they work on a graduated scale,” he said. “As there are more violations, the consequences get bigger. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission are very concerned with underage drinking.”

On Dec. 1, JComm heard two cases of students who violated AAA policy. Students Huynh and Gill, whose first names were not disclosed by JComm, were both charged with a violation of Section 9 of the AMS Policy Manual, which stipulates that underage students who fail to retrieve their student cards shall have their AMS Access privileges revoked immediately.

Student cards must be retrieved from bar staff in order to ensure underage students don’t consume, purchase or possess alcohol in any form while at an AAA event.

According to a JComm release, Huynh failed to retrieve her student card from Alfie’s pub on the night of Nov. 13. Huynh said she simply forgot to pick up her card.

Another release said that Gill forgot to retrieve her student card from Alfie’s on Nov. 16. She said she left the bar in a hurry.

Both students couldn’t prove mitigating circumstances and were both removed from the AAA program and placed on the tri-pub ban list for one year beginning on their respective nineteenth birthdays.

Students previously penalized in JComm for AAA policy violations will still have to serve the conditions of their rulings despite the suspension, said JComm Chair Steve Dickie.

“All rulings from JComm are binding and the suspension of the program in no way impacts the punishments at this point,” Dickie said.

Erin Fleming, StuCon head manager, said the program’s suspension is important so that underage students understand the seriousness of the program.

“[It’s] so the repercussions get across, that we can lose our liquor license,” Fleming said. “When you have that many infractions, it can’t go unnoticed.”

Hirst said a committee to review the program will be created.

“They will evaluate the AAA program in the bars and across campus,” she said. “They will likely have their [first] meeting next week and develop a timeline for them to finish the review.”

The committee’s review of the program should be completed by February, she said.

Griffiths said restoring the program is something that would likely be discussed with the AMS executive that will be elected in February. He added that he has not received feedback from students upset about the program’s cancellation.

“I am not sensing that anybody is extremely anxious about reinstating [the program],” he said.

He said the number of underage students affected by the suspension in terms of participation is relatively small.

Hirst said specific numbers weren’t available, but on any given AAA night at a campus pub, the number of underage students attending is fewer than five.

“StuCons estimate that it is probably three or four students [at the pub].”

She said Clark Hall Pub is probably most affected by the suspension.

Lois Adamson, ConEd ’09 and an AAA program member, said the recent suspension is frustrating for underage students.

“We want to go out and many of us have friends who are older who we want to hang out with,” she said. “I think [the program] is a good idea, so I really don’t understand what suspending it is going to do.”

James Brenton, ArtSci ’09, agreed.

“It seems like a good program. In any program, you are going to have individuals who won’t live up to expectations. But punishing the aggregate doesn’t seem fair.”

Daniel Moylan, PhysEd ’09, said he was indifferent to the suspension.

“There’s not incentive for people who are underage to go to an all-ages event. You can’t really go anywhere without big black X’s on your hands,” Moylan said.

“It is more fun for me to hang out with friends.”

While Griffiths and Hirst said they had not recieved to the suspension, Griffiths said the decision does impact some underage students.

“It’s unfortunate for those students who go to the pubs, enjoy it, follow the policy and now they have lost that privilege,” Griffiths said.

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