Underage Drinking & the Law

What parents need to know now about the new Social Host Laws

Three new drinking laws spur college students to political action

Students from the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University attending the St. Joseph City Council chamber on April 18. (Photo courtesy of Reed Osell/ The Record)

Students from the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University attending the St. Joseph City Council chamber on April 18. (Photo courtesy of Reed Osell/ The Record)

According to Minnesota Public Radio, college students in St. Joseph, Minn. were surprised when three new laws went into effect in their town. The three are detailed in this report by Will Moore, a graduating senior at St. John’s University:

“The first requires landlords to sign a keg permit acknowledging beer will be served on their property. The second allows police to charge people who are drunk with a misdemeanor if they’re uncooperative with police. The third ordinance holds hosts responsible if any minors drink alcohol at their social gatherings.”

According to Moore’s article, although college students represent approximately one-third of the eligible voters in St. Joseph, they didn’t know about the new ordinances until after they were passed in January 2013. That may mark an end to the student body’s apathy or disregard for local politics.

Since learning about them, students have added a discussion of the new laws to the school’s “Politics and a Pint” series; attended a meeting to hear the mayor of St. Joseph, its police chief and other officials speak; started a Facebook page to engage students and local officials in dialogue; begun a social media campaign and shown up at city council meetings. City council news will also be covered by the campus newspaper.

According to Moore, “dozens of students attended a St. Joseph City Council meeting on April 18”, where they expressed their desire to have the social host ordinance amended. The mayor and police chief indicate they welcome the students’ involvement and are open to further discussions.

4 comments on “Three new drinking laws spur college students to political action

  1. JamFest 16
    May 12, 2013

    Just goes to show; you snooze, you lose because they’ll pass laws to take your booze!

  2. chris
    May 12, 2013

    You get as much freedom as you’re willing to demand from authority. And if you remain silent, authority will take as much freedom from you as you let them.
    I wonder if “student apathy” is the only reason students didn’t know about the new ordinance until it was in place.

    • HM Epstein
      May 12, 2013

      According to the reporter, a college senior, the officials are making all the right moves. They waited until other local towns worked the kinks out of their versions, saw which ones reduced incidents of ER calls and house party busts, discussed it in open councils on the public record over a number of years, then took action. The students weren’t paying attention until they started getting fined. Now, the officials are talking to them, inviting comments, engaging online, in social media and in open forums. Let’s see what happens next.

      • chris
        May 14, 2013

        I can predict exactly what will happen: the officials will listen, let the students vent and then go on and do exactly what they feel to be politically expedient–unless students can pose some sort of electoral threat. It would be nice to actually see students and officials arriving at some sort of compromise and set of ground rules together, and working to keep things safe, and I do hope that’s what happens. But I wouldn’t bet on it. Any sort of “collaboration with the enemy” is illegal, right?
        Of course there’s no law forcing them to adopt such an ordinance in the first place. It would be interesting to know who’s advocating it and how.

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