What does a typical night out look like for you? For many, the vision of a night out on the Square — a necessary and crucial part of the overall college experience here at the University of Mississippi — comes to mind. But who shows up when a large number of underage students enjoy this scene? A familiar face, none other than the infamous Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control.
The Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control’s main prerogative is “to regulate the legal and responsible dispensing of alcoholic beverages within Mississippi.” In short, their job is to uphold all drinking laws, plain and simple. All establishments on the Square must follow the same rules and regulations. With the recent crackdown on Oxford’s bars, many students seem to avoid the scene altogether. Recently across Oxford, ABC has suspended alcohol permits at several bars because of underage drinking violations. These stern measures from ABC seem to root from the alcohol and safety ordinance put in place by the Board of Aldermen, which requires ID scanners and cameras to be placed in every bar downtown.
Are we at the end of an era? A night out on the Square, an integral nightlife scene that seems to define most undergraduate experiences, may just be coming to an end.
Underage students are going to drink alcohol no matter what. That’s not me advocating for it, it is just a fact of college. Would you rather underage students drink in a relatively safe environment, with easy access to public transportation like Safe Ride, or at a random house where people are more tempted to drive drunk? Also, keep in mind, partying is implicated in many sexual assault cases. According to econofact.org, a staggering 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted, and more than half of those incidents happen at parties. With house parties being a more isolated environment, the Square provides more adequate safety features, such as security guards and cameras, for students here in our college town.
Alcohol plays a prominent role in social life around in Oxford. Underage people are going to find a way to consume alcohol, whether ABC present or not. Facing reality, underage students would much rather stay at home or go to a friend’s house than risk tarnishing their record. The Oxford and Ole Miss community is rapidly expanding further from the Square, with many nights out typically looking like a house party or pregames. The strictness of ABC among the Square will soon turn this integral part of the Ole Miss collegiate experience to a fond memory of what once was our golden era. The city of Oxford must take into consideration that it is arguably safer to drink on the square, and the probability of unfavorable outcomes likely goes up at house parties.
Sophia Meruvia is a sophomore integrated marketing communications major from Philadelphia, Mississippi.