A newly proposed D.C. City Council policy would place greater restrictions on alcohol-serving nightclubs by requiring an adult to accompany all patrons under 18 years old after 11 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on weekends, The Washington Post reported last week. The plan affects those AU students who are under the age of 18.
The Youth Protection Bill, authored by D.C. Council member Jim Graham, follows the January shooting of 17-year-old Taleshia Ford outside the now-closed Club 1919 on Ninth Street N.W., according to the Post.
Graham’s legislation, which is scheduled for an April 18 public hearing, is the result of weeks of negotiations between council members and nightclub owners who disliked the bill’s original plan to prohibit all underage patrons from attending alcohol-serving nightclubs, the Post reported.
The compromise Protection Bill eliminates the ban, but requires clubs to ensure younger guests have parental supervision after a certain hour or pay a $300 annual license fee, according to a spokesman at Graham’s office.
Club owners must also devise an improved security plan, which would include conflict resolution techniques and crowd control training for nightclub security staff, Graham’s office said. The bill also allows clubs to hire off-duty police officers, who would not be able to enter the club unless staff asked them to intervene in a situation, to guard the front door - a move intended to deter crime, Graham’s office said.
While clubs that serve alcohol may still admit patrons of all ages, the bill mandates that clubs can lose this privilege should authorities discover two policy violations, notably those involving underage drinking, “within a two-year period or a pattern of violent incidents,” the Post reported.
Tessa Raden, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences and a frequent at music nightclubs, said she felt Graham’s new policy went too far and was a mistake.
“I was 17 at the beginning of the fall semester,” said Raden, who saw the band Reel Big Fish perform at the 9:30 club in November. “There’s little else for underage students to do if they can’t go to the clubs and have fun. Besides, how does parental supervision stop violence?”
Awaiting a decision on the bill, local D.C. and Virginia clubs have already increased police presence. Additionally, three clubs have closed in Prince George’s County, Va., to prevent further disruption, the Post reported. Despite the increased scrutiny prompted by Ford’s death, 47 establishments have been cited for underage drinking violations since Jan. 1. Police filed 117 drinking citations in 2006, according to the Post. But that number may take more than increased parental or security supervision to remedy, said Fouad Debs, a junior in the School of International Service.
“I don’t think parental supervision will curb underage drinking,” Debs said. “What if parents don’t watch their [son or daughter] closely or, well, purchase [him or her] a drink? Violence should be stopped, but it doesn’t fix the real issue underlying Ford’s death.”
Raden said she hopes Graham’s policy doesn’t backfire.
“D.C. is one of the only places that allow underage students to have fun,” she said. “I don’t think they should take that away.”
Graham could not be reached directly for comment due to the Council’s Easter recess.