Northwestern Will Survive Without the Keg (Or: Actions Have Consequences)

[Snark Warning]

The Northwestern community is abuzz this week with the news that the Keg, Evanston’s trashiest, craziest, collegiest bar, has had its liquor license revoked for continually allowing underage drinking. The loss of the license means that the Keg can no longer sell alcohol, meaning that its demise is probably imminent.

Naturally, Northwestern students (many of whom admit to never even having visited the Keg) are enraged. They see the license revocation not only as the end of a place they like to frequent (“like” being used only in the vaguest sense here), but as yet another tyrannical attempt by the city government to disrupt the Northwestern way of life.

I must admit that if my life revolved around drinking, I might see some sense in that view. But then again, I might not, given how many bars, frats, and off-campus apartments there are around me–and the latter two usually don’t even charge, let alone card.

In a perfect world, the Keg wouldn’t be closing. Why? Because the legal drinking age would be 18, just like the age of consent, enfranchisement, and conscription. In that perfect world, our culture would pay enough attention to mental health that people wouldn’t need alcohol to relax or socialize, meaning that binge drinking would be much less common.

But, clearly, we don’t live in that world yet, and for now, as in the future, we are obligated to follow the laws created by our elected government. The Keg’s ownership has proven over and over that it does not take the issue of underage drinking seriously, and it should not be permitted to flagrantly violate the law as it currently stands.

In one of the very few intelligent responses to this news that I have seen from NU students, my fellow columnist at the Daily Northwestern points out that closing the Keg will not stop underage drinking. That is correct. Nothing can stop underage drinking among college students aside from lowering the drinking age.

However, not revoking the Keg’s liquor license despite its violations of federal law send the message that we value profit and fun over law enforcement. Nowhere in the Constitution are we guaranteed the right to drink alcohol without any reasonable limits. What we are guaranteed, however, is a government with the power to make and enforce laws.

(My friend and fellow blogger Michael also writes about why revoking the Keg’s liquor license is not the evil tyrannical anti-capitalist move that some students seem to think it is.)

Furthermore, while closing the Keg will not prevent underage drinking, neither will ticketing speeders prevent speeding, or cleaning up litter prevent littering. yet both must be done for the sake of a fair and orderly society.

Many NU students, of course, don’t look at it this way and have no desire to. They react like a toddler reaching for her fifth piece of candy and having it taken away. In fact, they reacted by creating a fake Twitter account for Evanston mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl. Read it and weep.

(The fake Twitter account is partially a nod to the fact that the Keg’s “unofficial” Twitter was, according to students, the reason for its untimely demise, as Tisdahl pointed out the references to underage drinking in the satirical tweets. However, students who pretend that the Keg is closing due to a fake Twitter account are creating a straw man. It’s closing because of constant, documented violations of the law.)

Anyway, one of the writers over at the blog Sherman Ave responds to the attacks on Tisdahl with much more punch than I could ever muster:

Also, if you are attacking Mayor Tisdahl you are an idiot. You may not think you are an idiot, but you are. I’m sorry, but anyone who scapegoats an elected official for enforcing the law deserves the title of idiot. And that’s that.

For what it’s worth, I applaud Tisdahl for doing something “uncool,” since that’s something that many Northwestern students are apparently incapable of.

I’ve also seen a lot of comments from other students bemoaning the fact that the Keg’s closing means that their social lives are, for all intents and purposes, dead. I don’t know how many of these are “ironic” as opposed to genuine, but I do know that “irony” is a defense frequently trotted out by people who have been caught saying something idiotic.

If any of those comments do have any truth to them, I have only this to say–if your entire social life consists of getting wasted in a grimy bar, that is really sad.

Finally, and perhaps most irritatingly, many students are reacting to the closure of the Keg as though some irrevocable, unique part of Northwestern culture is gone. An article to this effect was even published at North by Northwestern.

People. Seriously. Seedy bars where you can get piss-drunk are a dime a dozen. Go to any college town in the country and you’ll see that.

For people like me, who observe what most call “college life” only from the sidelines, the Keg’s imminent closure is both a cause of celebration and, well, of consternation. The former for obvious reasons, and the latter because it’s quite disappointing to see one’s fellow students ranting and raving over the closing of some dumb bar as though they’ve just gotten rejected from their favorite country club or something.

For now, though, I’ll leave you with this hilarious take on the Keg’s closure from Sherman Ave. Don’t watch if you’re easily offended.

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8 thoughts on “Northwestern Will Survive Without the Keg (Or: Actions Have Consequences)

  1. I literally read an editorial that called this “part of the war on NU students,” and that Tisdahl should do more to engage NU students in the governing of Evanston. As I think we’ve both pointed out, this isn’t a war on NU students, just on the ones who are drunken tools. As far as politics goes, Tisdahl knows who her constituents are, and she’s going to side with the law and the interests of the people who will still be here in four years over the interests of some rowdy partiers.

    • WHAT. Okay. Somebody PLEASE explain to me why NU students deserve special inclusion in the governing of Evanston. This is not their permanent residence. They do not pay taxes here. They may participate in the local economy, but not NEARLY as much as permanent Evanston residents.

      If they want to get “engaged” in the governing of Evanston, the first step would be to get their heads out of their rear ends, attend city council meetings, VOTE, and generally behave like the adults they supposedly are.

      This is just :ALKDFJ:SLDKFJ:SDLKFJ

      • Setting aside that most NU students don’t really view Evanston as much more than a playground, “engaging with NU” wouldn’t have affected this decision, because the Keg was BREAKING THE LAW REPEATEDLY, and the only interest NU students had in it stemmed from its lax ID policy (read “flagrant disregard for the law”). Maybe without the Keg, the rest of the student body will grow up and stop being entitled little shits.

        • Right, and you can’t get around the fact that there’s just simply a conflict of interest–the Evanston government (and NU’s administration) want to reduce drinking, and students do not. Why would they cooperate with efforts to curb underage drinking? They’re the ones fucking doing it.

          • I keep hearing the “It’ll just happen someplace else, with less supervision!” argument, which is sometimes followed up with an ominous “they’ve [the city and university] gotta be prepared to deal with the consequences.” Indeed, there is the chance that students that get wasted in their dorm rooms and frat houses, rather than at off campus bars, but these students seem to be missing the point. The Keg hasn’t been punished for failing to protect underage drinkers. Underage drinkers are going to find a way, inevitably, to get drunk. Rather, the Keg has been punished for drawing underage drinkers out into the city. If students want to get alcohol poisoning in their own damn basements, it’s not our problem…

          • Well, really, it IS our problem, at least if we’re concerned about the health and safety of our fellow students. Which I am, and you understandably might not be. :)

            But of course, that still doesn’t mean we should allow a business to violate the law because, hey, it’s better than the alternative.

  2. well written! I love it. I’ve never been to the keg either, nor have I ever had any desire to. besides, there are much better places to go and have a pint with your friends here anyway. read: celtic knot, bar louie.

    not that I condone underage drinking, of course. But thankfully those places are usually free of typical NU fuckwads looking for a “Dancefloor hookup”. Also thankfully absent from the aforementioned are dancefloors…

    • Haha, I do like dancing, but if I were going for that I’d have gone to Boystown or something like that, anyway.

      Personally, I’ll be celebrating my 21st birthday at the Celtic Knot and enjoying the feeling of being surrounded by people who behave more or less like adults.

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