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Monday, May 20, 2024

Students mull over alcohol policies at ALRC forum

Balancing student safety with fairness to bar owners was the main concern of UW-Madison students when discussing proposed strategies to deal with alcohol use and abuse at a subcommittee meeting of the Madison Alcohol License Review Committee in the Memorial Union Wednesday. 




'I wanted to make sure that we had [students'] input brought to our attention,' said Ald. Kent Palmer, District 15, chair of the ALRC subcommittee on comprehensive alcohol issues. 




Students spoke out predominately on the specific issue of banning bar drink specials. 




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'I think it's a dangerous move that will lead to an increase in house parties. The reason it's so dangerous is because house parties are completely unregulated,' said Leah Weimer, a UW-Madison senior and member of the RWJ Project, which encourages nonalcoholic activities on campus. 




Erin Syth, president of the Panhellenic Association, expressed similar concern on behalf of the UW-Madison Greek community. 




'The group is trying to move to third-party vendors to make everything safer. Right now we have maybe three establishments that will let us in,' said Syth, who fears that an increase in regulation will hurt students looking for a responsible place to have a good time. 




Other students brought up the fact that if the committee only limits bars in the downtown area, students will have more incentive to drive elsewhere to get alcohol. 




'It's ridiculous to think that students don't have cars. We need to focus on harm reduction and the largest harm is drunk driving and sexual assaults,' UW-Madison junior Austin King said. 




But Andrea Bartucci, representing Promoted Awareness Victim Empowerment, said she supported increased tavern regulation in order to prevent sexual assaults. 




Students were not the only community members to speak out. 




Barbara Mercer, president of the Madison-Dane County Tavern League shared her views on the unfairness of increased regulations on bars. 




'Taverns are the most regulated industry in the country,' said Mercer, who said bars are often blamed for students who drink at house parties. 




'Students are adults and should be treated as adults,' Mercer said. 




LaMarr Billups, special assistant to UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley, said the issue of alcohol regulation is important to discuss. 




'We're carting students to detox every weekend. When you're at detox, you're near dead,' he said, adding that he does not know that reducing bar specials is the only answer, but he feels it could be part of a solution. 




'Research we've been looking at shows there is a drop in demand when price goes up [so], it needs to be out on the table,' Billups said.

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