Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


The great drink debate

Last week, area bars agreed to “voluntarily” give up drink
specials on weekends for a year. In return, Chancellor Wiley and
Ald. Tim Bruer, District 14, have agreed to call off the dogs for a
year in their quest to ban drink specials.

At first glance, it appears Wiley and friends have won. At least
that’s what the headlines in both student papers seemed to indicate
last week. After all, the nights most students go out to the bars
will now be more expensive.

But we must take a closer look at the issue. Take State Street
Brats for example. Tuesdays, Brats has flip night, where students
have a chance to save 75 percent off their drink order. Thursday
evenings, Captain and Coke doubles are only $2.50. Yet, Saturday
night, one of Brats’ drink specials was $2.25 Coors’ Lite bottles
— hardly a special when compared to what is offered during the


Students have not been receiving large discounts on drinks
during the weekend, and some bars such as the Plaza have never
offered specials on weekends. In addition, the loophole in this
agreement practically gives bars free reign.

A bar is permitted to offer a food/beverage combination for a
discounted price, without it being considered a “drink special.” So
Brats could still offer a long-island ice tea and a white brat for
$3 Friday evenings, and people would purchase these “combos” all
night long — usually just tossing the brat in the garbage.

Bar owners and students, most recently ASM’s Badger Party, have
fought against City Council and the administration, contending
drink specials are not the issue. The problem is some students
choose not to always act responsibly when drinking. That is, they
go out with the sole purpose of getting wasted. Price will not be
the issue on evening’s students choose to be “superstars.”

The problem is also part imaginary. Some of the alders believe
drink specials are to blame for all the late-night calls to the
Madison downtown area, and they say the evidence is that there are
so few calls everywhere outside the downtown area.

Indeed, alcohol presence is one of the reasons for the high
number of calls downtown, but check any city — the results are the
same. Wherever the greatest numbers of people congregate,
particularly when they all spill out onto the street at the same
time, that is where you will find the greatest number of police
calls. The police expect this.

Having most of your entertainment venues in one area benefits
the city, too, because the city can concentrate its resources in
one area.

If Madison had the same number of police calls but they were
evenly distributed throughout this city of over 180,000 people,
imagine the police trying to get to every call. It would not be
possible. This is why you find most bars congregated in one area.
It is for practical purposes and the public’s safety.

Police statistics show that approximately one-third of all
students who go to detox come from over-consuming in the dorms,
one-third from house parties and one-third from the bars. Yet, all
the focus has been on the bars because they are easiest to

The agreement between Wiley and friends and tavern owners leaves
Susan Crowley and her “PACE posse” without a ship to sail. The
reason PACE — formerly known as RWJ — had leverage was because
Wiley, the group’s former director, continued to lead the cause,
only in a more influential position.

Crowley has said she is not going to stop fighting for a ban on
drink specials. She is concerned, and rightfully so. This year will
be a test. The question is, will the number of students who go to
detox on weekend evenings decrease now that drink specials have
been eliminated?

Bar owners and student leaders believe this is a bet worth
taking. As a student, I know where I am most likely to over-consume
— at a house party. I can get practically unlimited beer for four-
to five dollars and usually three shots for two dollars. Talk about

I would never have four to six shots at a bar — except on my
birthday, when others are buying — because shots are rarely on
special and it is simply too expensive!

Students and bars owners have won this round. Drink specials are
here to stay for at least another year, and the Union has 48-oz.
pitchers and extended hours this fall. I sure miss the fun!

— Matt Modell ([email protected]) is a senior
majoring in journalism and political science. He is in Washington,
D.C. this fall for an internship.

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