Week 4: Oxford Square Bars Prepare for New Alcohol Ordinance

By Kennedy Pope and Abby Vance

OXFORD, Miss. – As of Tuesday, September 4, bars and restaurants selling alcohol on the Square have 30 days to start enforcing the new law passed by the Board of Aldermen requiring, among other things, that all IDs be scanned upon entering the bars.

A week after the controversial law was passed by Oxford Board of Aldermen, bar owners and bartenders surrounding the Square voiced their opinions.

“The scanners are pretty much-unchartered territory for me and the rest of the bar owners,” said Lee Harris, owner of Funky’s. “I just don’t think they are going to work simply because you can Google and pay 100 bucks for an ID and it will scan.”

Funky’s bar, located on the corner of the Square, has strictly been a 21 and up bar since its opening in February of 2009.

From a number’s standpoint, Harris stated that students who are underage will attempt to attend 21 and up bars regardless.

“If you look at the numbers, 60 percent of students are under 21,” Harris said.

The Board of Aldermen passed this law regulating “Alcohol and Safety” in hopes to keep underage drinking rates down.

“I see why the city did it, but from a student standpoint, I don’t think it was the most favorable decision on our part. I’m just glad I’m now 21,” said Kelsey Addison, an IMC major at Ole Miss.

Tucker Tims, Ole Miss senior and bartender at Rafters and Annex said, “In my own opinion, I do not think it is going to make much of a difference. The kids have such good fake IDs [that] most of them are going to scan anyways. If it scans and has their name and information on it, then there’s not much you can tell them.”

All bars and restaurants selling alcohol on the Square will be required to have some type of scanner. The scanner suggested by the Board of Aldermen is a $50 down payment with a $10 monthly charge with each device the scanner is on.

“I am against it just because it is more money I have to spend to check IDs,” Harris said. “I also feel like it will make security lazier because now they don’t have to really look they just scan and go.”

Riley Dunworth, an Ole Miss alumnus and bartender at The Library, attended one of the Board of Aldermen meetings and even fought against these changes.

“Because of the crowd that already comes to The Library, I don’t think attendance will change much,” Dunworth said. “I feel like the scanners will be faulty and people with fakes may have more success getting in than previously thought.”

Foreign companies such as “IDGod” offer “premium scannable fakes,” allowing students who may not have been able to have access into such bars could now possibly have access with the new scanners coming into effect.

“I’m waiting until the last minute to start using the scanners,” Harris said. “The second weekend of October is when we have to have it, and that’s when I’m getting it.”

Harris even thinks that this law will be counterintuitive to the intended purpose.

“It’s just gonna make 18-year-olds feel more empowered to go to more of the 21 and up bars,” Harris said.

“I’m not changing how I operate,” Harris said. “Here I am. I’ve been here for 10 years and I’m still pumping it out.”

Because the Board wants to empower Oxford Police to crack down on underage drinking, Harris can see why these actions are taking place; however, he also knows that 18 year-olds are going to find other means of obtaining alcohol.

“We’re just another college town,” Harris said. “If they wanna get in this bar, they’re gonna get in, doesn’t matter what app we have.”

This law will not only affect bars but also restaurants with bars, including Boure. Bartender Reece Smith is also in agreement with the opinions of bars.

“I don’t think it’s going to change much for us,” Smith said.  “We tend to have an older crowd. “It’ll definitely cost more money, but to what extent, I’m not really sure.”

From a restaurant’s standpoint, Boure and surrounding restaurants are still unsure of the precautions they will take to keep their customers happy while enjoying both a drink and a meal.

This law is scheduled to go into effect within the next 30 days to bars solely located on the Square and expand to other businesses outside the “Downtown District” by January 1, 2019.

 

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