By Heather Burke Hoya Staff Writer

In the wake of recent serious alcohol-related incidents, including the November Sports Fans shooting, the December beating of a young man on Prospect Street and the February David Shick death, a group of community members, working with the university, have joined forces to combat underage drinking and alcohol abuse.

According to Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Art Schultz, a coalition of ANC commissioners, including Commissioner Matt Payne (COL ’01), Citizens Association of Georgetown and Georgetown Business and Professional Association members, the Metropolitan Police Department and university administrators came together several weeks ago to “foster some programs to reduce underage drinking.”

“We are not running a temperance thing, we are just trying to keep it legal,” Schultz said. “We need a safer community . with two deaths and a beating in the last four to five months, something is wrong.” Schultz is chair of the ANC Alcohol and Beverage Control Committee. The ANC issues recommendations to the ABC when a bar’s alcohol license comes up for renewal. At some of its recent meetings, the ANC has levied heavy criticism on some local bars on a variety of alcohol and other related issues.

One of the first actions of the coalition was to write a letter to University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., expressing its concern over recent campus alcohol-related events and “in the greater Georgetown community involving alcohol abuse by university students and others, to outline measures we are taking to address these problems and to urge the university to take a leadership role in this area as well.”

Schultz said the Shick death in particular led the task force to “address these problems in a lasting and meaningful way.”

In the letter, signed by Schultz and dated March 22, the working group urges Georgetown to take a significant role in combating student alcohol abuse and underage drinking. The letter called on the university to automatically suspend students with more than two violations of district alcohol laws or university Code of Conduct rules regarding alcohol consumption.

Secondly, the group asks the administration to provide more on-campus social events for students, including more venues for non-alcohol events as well as a place for students over 21 to drink on campus and responsibly. “The university needs to develop more on-campus activities,” Schultz said.

Payne agreed with this goal. “We need more programs on campus, more funding for student clubs and a bar on campus. If students want to drink, those of age should be able to do so in a nice, safe environment.”

Thirdly, the letter requests the university to increase deployment of Department of Public Safety officers to patrol campus and help the Metropolitan Police Department patrol the neighborhoods surrounding campus Thursday through Saturday nights when loud noise, disorderly conduct and alcohol-related offenses tend to occur.

“We are committed to doing what we can to help solve alcohol abuse problems in our community and to working with the university to address this problem as it relates to university students,” the letter states. “We urge the university to do its part by promptly taking the above steps which will significantly reduce alcohol abuse on the Georgetown University campus and in the neighboring communities.”

Assistant Vice President for External Relations Linda Greenan and Assistant Dean of Students Jeanne Lord, both of whom serve on the committee, could not be reached for comment.

In addition, the coalition is working on measures to crack down on underage drinking and alcohol abuse in the community at large. Currently, under district law, someone can only be arrested for using a fake ID to purchase alcohol, not to enter an establishment that serves alcoholic beverages, leading to difficulties with enforcement. Schultz said coalition members are meeting with Ward Two City Councilman Jack Evans to introduce emergency legislation so that a person can be arrested for presenting a fake ID at the door of an ABC establishment and perhaps even be taken downtown and kept in jail overnight.

“This measure will help bars out,” Lieutenant Patrick Burke of the Second District Metropolitan Police said. “Many are trying hard [to crack down on fake IDs] but the quality is good, and when bouncers stop people at the door, they can’t do anything.”

In addition, Schultz said the task force wants to increase fines for underage drinking and fake IDs, from the approximately $300 it is now to possibly $500. In addition, he and others hope to meet with prosecutors and judges and ask them to tighten up on enforcing alcohol consumption laws.

Right now, if a police officer arrests someone and brings them downtown for processing, the paperwork and process can take over three hours, usually keeping the officer off the street, Schultz said. The coalition’s goal is for police officers to be able to write a ticket to those who are arrested for underage drinking violations. Schultz would like this fine to be about $500, “so the financial burden will be a deterrent [to drinking.]”

To increase responsible consumption of alcohol, the Business and Professional Association, working with the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C., is sponsoring free Training for Intervention Procedures training for all Georgetown ABC establishments so that servers and bartenders can better identify and address underage drinking and general alcohol abuse.

“[TIPS] allows bartenders to better deal with people who have had too much to drink, to keep people from drinking too much, a way to prevent people from overindulging in alcohol,” said Karen Goode of the Georgetown Business and Professional Association. The four-hour session is free and will be offered April 24 through 28. She added that some bars and restaurants such as the Clyde’s Group already undergo this training.

Schultz said the ABC will require that any establishment with a citation for underage drinking have their employees undergo this training. The commission will also enforce the D.C. law that requires bars to serve food up to two hours before closing. In addition, the letter to O’Donovan states that the ANC will “vigorously protest” the alcohol license renewal for any establishment that accepts or encourages underage drinking, alcohol overconsumption or any law violation.

“[The coalition is] not just concerned with underage drinking but with overconsumption [of alcohol], not just with students but with all ages,” Schultz said.

Payne said he generally supports the coalition’s goals and measures. “We need to have more responsible bartenders and I’m glad the coalition is not just trying to prevent underage drinking but to find alternatives.”

MPD is also cracking down on student drinking. According to Burke, MPD has started its annual spring crackdown that has resulted in approximately 10 arrests since the end of February for violations such as underage drinking and open containers. Burke said that when the weather is nice in the spring and fall, more people are likely to be walking around late at night. Every Thursday through Saturday from 10 p.m. until 4 a.m., at least five additional patrolmen are on hand, particularly on Prospect Street and in Burleith, to deal with problems such as drinking in public, urinating in public, open alcohol containers and underage drinking.

Last weekend, Burke said there were several arrests of students for open container violations. Two arrests were in Burleith on 35th Street and two were around 37th and N Streets. Several of these students were arrested and brought down to the station. For an open container violation, Burke said people are typically fined $25 and out of jail in an hour.

Payne said he witnessed one of these arrests last weekend and that MPD’s crackdown is “perfectly legitimate.”

“My problem is how it’s conducted, whether it’s witch-hunt style or if they are actually going after problem houses and really trying to reduce the amount of disturbances in this neighborhood.”

“There is a lot of interest in the community on how to have better relationships with the students,” Schultz said.

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