Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Campus-area bars test controversial ID policy

[media-credit name=’Eric Wiegmann / The Badger Herald Design’ align=’alignnone’ width=’648′]infographic[/media-credit]

Two campus bars are defending their newly implemented policy to only accept drivers licenses and passports as proof of legal age for bar entry.

Signs posted outside the entrances of Wando’s Bar and Johnny O’s Sports Lounge, both located on University Avenue, indicate state IDs, which are available to state residents of all ages who do not hold a driver’s license, are no longer accepted in these establishments. 


Madison Police Department spokesperson Joel DeSpain said MPD had no immediate problems with the policy and is in support of it as long as it was working as an effective method to patrol for underage bar-goers. Some bar-goers contend the new policy is a form of racism because of the demographics of who typically has a drivers license or passport.

“It’s fine with us,” DeSpain said. “We just want to make sure they’re checking that underage people are kept out.”

MPD’s main concern remains to curb the use of fake IDs, he said. DeSpain said he does not think the new policy will necessarily increase the prevalence of using forged forms of ID.

Mayor Paul Soglin said he generally has no problem with city bars implementing the policy and it could be beneficial.

“[The fairness of the policy] depends on how it is being implemented and administered,” Soglin said. “It could have a disparate effect.”

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said he is not necessarily a supporter of the policy, but he has heard from bar owners it has made a difference in the amount of violence.

“I wish they didn’t have these policies,” he said. “But many of these bars feel they have no choice.”

He emphasized that the policy must be enforced “equitably and in a non-discriminatory manner.”

In 2005, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee examined the racial distribution of those with drivers licenses. They found 55 percent of black males did not have state licenses compared to 17 percent among white males. This disparity was similar between African-American females and white females.

In an email to The Badger Herald, the owner of Johnny O’s said the policy reflects a move toward more selectivity in ID forms accepted.

“State identification cards are often not very legitimate,” he said. “We just ask for two valid forms if it’s an ID card.”

Wando’s owner Jay Wanserski did not immediately return calls for comment.

ID checkers at both of the bars also declined to comment on the new policy.

Although Wando’s and Johnny O’s have already adopted the new policy, Shayne Miller, general manager of Segredo, said he does not plan on implementing it in the future.

He said while there was an increase of violence in the downtown area this summer, this new entrance policy is not an appropriate way to address it.

“We respect everybody else’s view on how they want to handle it,” he said. “But we feel there are other ways to ensure the safety of not only your customers but also the customers of the neighboring buildings.”

He said Segredo spent increased funds on security and implemented a dress code to help address problems.

Miller also argued the new policy could be discriminatory against people with disabilities and international bar-goers, especially given the diverse nature of campus.

“[I] do not question that they are doing what they feel is right for them, but our focus at Segredo is to be intolerant only of bad behavior – although we do insist on a slightly nicer dress code than most of our friends in other licensed establishments because we’re a club versus a bar,” Michael Hierl, owner and CEO of Segredo, said in an email to The Badger Herald.

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