It seems that just about every time the Tuscaloosa City Council meets, it votes on approving special events retail licenses so that alcohol can be served at events involving University students. There are sometimes more than a dozen applications that are voted on at each meeting. The city’s Revenue Enforcement Manager has frequently described many of the events as “frat parties.” Downtown Entertainment LLC (one of many so named LLCs) is the entity that most frequently applies for the ABC license. One of its representatives has said that in many cases the responsibility for verifying if those being served alcohol are of legal age is left up to security that provided by the fraternities. The Tuscaloosa Police Department does not have jurisdiction over the fraternity houses that are located on campus.
The City Council is currently at a stalemate over how to regulate bar security. Other cities have ordinances that stipulate the kind of training that employees of bars must have. Since there is such a high turnover of security personnel at local bars, there has been concern expressed at Council Committee meetings over training being prohibitively expensive. Problems at local bars have ranged from fire code violations to shootings. Some establishments have been shut down. But thousands of University of Alabama students frequent the cluster of bars located in the vicinity of the University. Enforcement of laws regarding under aged drinking has been difficult.
A new study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism points out that there has been a dramatic increase in deaths of young people due to alcohol use.
Katelyn Newman in the USA Today article Alcohol Is Growing as a Prime-Time Killer quoted Dr. Gabriel Schnickel: “You see a lot of people, these younger folks who … think they’re drinking the same amount as their friends or same amount as people that they socialize with, but for them, it is doing irreversible damage to their liver. We see a lot of young people come in who are in the throes of alcoholic hepatitis who had no idea that they could end up in that situation and, certainly, the terror in their eyes when they hear that they may need a new liver.”
The University of Alabama has a strict policy on alcohol use that is intended to promote the safety and well being of its students. It says:
Individuals under 21 years of age are not permitted to consume alcohol or be in possession of alcohol. Alcohol paraphernalia (which includes but is not limited to: empty beer cans or bottles, shot glasses, etc.) are prohibited and considered a violation of policy. Individuals over the age of 21 may consume alcohol in designated areas on campus in a safe and responsible manner.
With the recent findings on the severity of the problems associated with alcohol use by young people, it would seem as if there would be a greater urgency in the enforcement of policies and laws on under aged drinking.