University of Wisconsin’s student government brainstormed solutions to the issue of entertainment accessibility for students under the legal drinking age with the hope of ultimately providing safer nightlife options.
Associated Students of Madison’s Legislative Affairs committee convened to discuss student entertainment options for those under the age of 21 in light of the committee’s recent survey on the matter, whose participants overwhelmingly noted the lack of entertainment for those unable to go to bars.
Legislative Affairs Vice Chair Rachel Lepak, who is also an Alcohol License Review Committee student representative, said she has been working to provide students with more entertainment options since August of this year.
“I want to see more businesses, specifically those businesses operating as bars, to provide more entertainment for those who are between the ages of 18 and 20,” Lepak said.
However, according to Lepak, many businesses selling alcohol are unwilling to allow those under 21 in because they will be unable to make purchases.
Lepak, who recently met with Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, and Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said both alders suggested the city should attract new businesses to cater to the under-21 crowd rather than approach existing businesses.
Addtionally, Lepak noted the police who sit on the ALRC create another barrier to providing more entertainment options to students. Currently, the police are against the idea of having existing businesses cater to both age ranges, Lepak said, relaying their belief that such a situation would be difficult to regulate.
Lepak also expressed safety concerns stemming from the current lack of entertainment options for under-21 students. Even though many students may not be old enough to get into bars, it does not mean they are not drinking, Lepak said, adding she considers this reality to be a major safety concern.
“The city has this mentality that if you cannot get into a bar, you are not going to drink,” Lepak said. “This is a way of providing alternate activities where they are under control and they are monitored.”
According to the committee’s recent survey, which was orchestrated by Lepak and asked for students’ opinions on the current state of entertainment in Madison, approximately 91 percent of the students who responded believed that the entertainment available is targeted at those who are 21 or older.
Around 2,500 students responded to the survey and the majority of respondents were under 21, Lepak said.
Legislative Affairs Chair Daniel Statter said the survey received the most responses of any survey the committee has sent out adding that such a figure is notable, as it is especially difficult to get students to respond on a campus the size of UW’s, let alone a number that is actually representative of the student body.
In addition, the survey showed students were willing to pay for entertainment geared toward 18-plus year olds, however, they would prefer if the location of said entertainment were on campus.
Statter added the survey has been a great indicator in regard to the project as a whole and will allow the issue to move forward.
“This survey is an example of an issue that Rachel is passionate about and has been working very hard on,” Statter said. “She now has a significant expression of the student body, which she can now move forward with.”
Lepak said the ALRC will meet to discuss the issue of 18-plus entertainment on campus next Monday at 5:30. p.m. She said she believes the committee is open to the idea and hopes that by getting the issue on the ALRC’s agenda, she is getting closer to finding solutions to the problem.