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Dean Elmore, Tavern Owners Talk about Drinking

Meeting highlights partnership between University, proprietors


Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore confessed to a view that, he admits, might sound odd: he likes seeing students in bars.

That’s because when it comes to student safety, the more controlled environment of restaurants and taverns has it all over some other venues, like-off campus parties. Elmore shared that thought and others with local tavern owners last Thursday at a first-of-its-kind meeting between him and them to discuss students and alcohol. A headline last month reinforced Elmore’s point: police arrested a half dozen BU students at two massive Ashford Street house parties in a single weekend. Each party drew upwards of 100 students from various colleges.

“If they’re going to drink, they’re going to do it in far more moderation in an establishment,” Elmore (SED’87) told the owners.

The periodic sit-downs with restaurant and bar owners, he said, was one suggestion of last year’s University task force probing abuses, including of alcohol, by the hockey team. At this first meeting, it turned out, BU did most of the talking. “Anything you need for us to do? Please, let us know—right now,” Elmore urged the restaurateurs in a lounge at the George Sherman Union. Except for scattered appreciation for their relationships with the University—“a great line of communication,” T’s Pub co-owner Jimmy Rooney said—the proprietors had little to say.

Not only have the University and BU police stayed in touch informally with tavern owners about any student problems, the owners said, but Elmore and other officials patronize the establishments, a gentle reminder to students that you never know just who might observe your behavior. “When they do come in and they see Dean Elmore or John Battaglino, they’re respectful,” said Joe Donovan, co-owner of T’s, referring to BU’s assistant dean of students.

“We’ll continue to patronize—and in John’s case, frequent—your establishments,” Elmore promised, with a grin for Battaglino. He also said he was grateful for help from Cornwall’s pub in Kenmore Square, which has urged BU students who feel unsafe in the square—from having too much to drink or other reasons—to identify themselves to the management, which will call a cab or appropriate BU staff to assist them.

“That’s being a real responsible neighbor,” he said after the meeting.

BU officials also distributed a pamphlet with guidelines to ensure that businesses don’t give preferential treatment to student-athletes. Perks like free food or drink that are unavailable to the public can trigger NCAA penalties.

Among the businesses that sent representatives to the meeting were the BU Pub, Sunset Cantina, T’s Pub, Paradise Rock Club, O’Leary’s, Audubon Circle, Cornwall’s, and Uno.

After the meeting, Amanda Girginis, a manager at Sunset Cantina, said underage college students with fake identification were her biggest student-related headache, although she and others said their establishments usually can handle the problem with ID-reading technology and staff training. “On a Friday and Saturday night, we see a lot of fake IDs,” she said. “And we either just take them away, or if we can’t identify them—’cause some of them are really, really good—we give them back and tell them, ‘Next time you come in, you need to bring a passport’” or other ID. “Other than that, we’re just doing our job and making sure no student leaves our restaurant intoxicated when they are of age.”

The businesses also work with the University at enforcement. A representative of Paradise Rock Club had nothing but good things to say about the club’s relationship with University police. Donovan said later that T’s Pub invested in a $5,000 scanner for detecting fake IDs.

The owners’ general satisfaction with their relationship with the University is the payoff from earlier outreach, Elmore said following the get-together.

“What I heard was that these are folks who also take what they do very seriously,” he said. “They understand that they’ve got quite the potent drug in their space—alcohol—and that they’ve got to be responsible to the young people who frequent their businesses.”

Elmore said he planned to meet again with the group at the start of the next academic year.

Rich Barlow

Rich Barlow can be reached at barlowr@bu.edu.

6 Comments on Dean Elmore, Tavern Owners Talk about Drinking

  • SMG Student on 02.11.2013 at 8:40 am

    This article just seems to revolve around the idea that students will always drink and the 21 year old drinking age does nothing but creates headaches for everyone involved.

    • Anonymous on 02.11.2013 at 1:23 pm

      Is that not true? It certainly seems accurate to me.

      • SMG Student on 02.11.2013 at 6:10 pm

        Was just pointing out, not disagreeing.

  • Larry on 02.11.2013 at 9:30 am

    Another good reason the drinking age should be lowered to 19.

    • Larry David on 02.11.2013 at 7:11 pm

      That would make it even worse for 18 year old freshman. it should be 18, that way the first year of college (when students are already under a lot of social stress) isn’t the first time kids have a drink

  • Mike on 02.11.2013 at 1:25 pm

    Perhaps if the University treated students who attend or throw off-campus parties in the same respectful manner students would be more respectful towards them.

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