Posted by Mira Brock
At least five underage students were issued tickets after attempting to enter The Mine- a 21-plus underground entertainment venue in downtown Saratoga Springs-on Saturday, Jan 25. The students, caught with forged or false identification, were escorted into a squad car, where they each received a ticket for as much as 450 dollars, according to one student.
The Saratoga Springs Police Department did not orchestrate the operation. Instead, according to one student who received a ticket, the Department of Motor Vehicles issued violations. The DMV is often involved in investigations of establishments with liquor licenses according to SSPD Lieutenant Robert Jilson, who also explained that the DMV can "impose civil penalties."
The students were issued a "uniform traffic ticket" which cited their violation of N.Y. Vehicle and Traffic Law 509-6. The law states: "No licensee shall voluntarily permit any other person to use his license, nor shall any person at any time possess or use any forged, fictitious or illegally obtained license, or use any license belonging to another person." Violating this law is punishable by a fine-between $75 and $300-and/or imprisonment for "no more that fifteen days."
The students in question reported inconsistent ID'ing practices, noting that several other people with false identification were allowed to enter The Mine. According to one student, as a DMV employee detained him, a friend of his with fake identification was allowed to enter the club, located on Broadway.
Many Skidmore students have observed a trend in which at least one or two arrests are made at the beginning of a semester, presumably to deter underage drinking at venues in downtown Saratoga. One student remarked, "it's not the first time this has happened, it might force people to think twice about going to Pony Club events."
Pony Club, a campus group that organizes weekend events at local venues, told The Skidmore News in an e-mail that they have "definitely had a harder time finding venues to host events this year." Several seniors at Skidmore have also noticed heightened strictness and an increase in downtown policing since their freshman year. Some referred to an increase in "ID busting," and one student said that there are now bars in which "Skidmore students are no longer accepted."
Peabody's, a bar that many seniors frequented in the past, is now under new ownership and has recently undergone renovation. They have told Pony Club that they have no interest in hosting a Skidmore event because in doing so, they would risk ruining the new space, as there have been problems with vandalism involving Skidmore students there in the past. Other bars such as The Parting Glass and Irish Times also no longer want to host Skidmore events, according to Pony Club.
Skidmore students do not have the best record regarding substance abuse and alcohol related incidents. In 2010, during the annual Halloween Dance on Skidmore campus nine students were treated at the hospital for alcohol poisoning. In 2011, a visiting student from Boston College was found dead in Putnam Creek after attending parties with Skidmore students over the weekend.
Some students think that responsibility with alcohol consumption is an area in which Skidmore College needs to improve. Winifred Vaughan '14 suggests that a police crackdown may very well be "a direct reflection of the Skidmore community and their presence in the Saratoga community at large." However, Associate Dean of Student Affairs, David Karp, says that the "negative incidents are probably more than offset by the many positive interactions with students who volunteer in various community nonprofits and work, shop, and eat in the many small businesses."
Owen Lilly, a sophomore at Skidmore and Saratoga Springs native, points out that alcohol is a huge part of the city's economy-especially during the summer-and he believes that any sort of police crackdown has to do with the reputation of the bars and the city. "They don't want to be known as being shady, and associated with underage drinking."
Political reasons may explain why bars and policing downtown have become stricter. According to one source, the mayor of Saratoga Springs, Joanne D. Yepsen, is trying to pass a law that forces bars to close at 2 a.m. Some believe that the police may be attempting to build a case for why this law should be passed, and Skidmore is an undeniable source of underage drinking.
Underage drinking is a generally accepted feature of undergraduate college life. In regard to the production and use of fake ID's, Lieutenant Robert Jilson said that "it's one of those things: where there's a will there's a way." While the Lieutenant points out that there could be more school ramifications for underage drinking, one student argues that if there were a safe venue for underage students to experiment with alcohol on campus it could potentially eliminate unsavory alcohol-related incidents, "If there was a venue on campus that was more fun, less creepy, and maybe a little bit bigger than Falstaffs, it could solve some of these problems." This venue could be regulated by Campus Safety, who one student claims are "way nicer than the cops."
The DMV's operation may prove efficacious. As one underage student remarked, "Now I probably won't go downtown next weekend."