Welcome to college, freshmen!
You may have made it through Welcome Week without any run-ins with the campus police (congrats!), but you still have plenty of opportunities to meet them up close and personal.
There are going to be many times this year and well into your college career that you will find yourself surrounded by alcohol. And, naturally, you are going to want to partake. Just beware–while you are navigating the university party scene, your RA’s, Campus Police, and Public Safety units are gearing up to bust underage revelers.
Here are some tips on how you can avoid getting written up before your first semester is over.
1. Don’t act like ‘The Freshman.’
Just because you suddenly have access to alcohol, it doesn’t mean you need to consume ALL of the alcohol at once. Even if the cops are out and about, they don’t have the manpower to hunt down every single underage boozer. So, they’ll zero in on the kid stumbling around with a trash can on his head before thinking twice about the passive mingler. The same goes with your RA, who really doesn’t want to walk in on you peeing in the corner of elevator.
2. Beware of PDA.
True story: I was once stumbling across campus with a guy I liked, and was pretty much all over him. I was stopped by a Public Safety brigade, who proceeded to quiz me: Did I know this guy? Where were we going? While I insisted that he was a friend, one of the officers interrupted with “You’re obviously intoxicated and we want to make sure you’re not going to make a bad decision tonight.” Ouch. (Editor’s Note: Where were those guys when I was making out with the guy with the tats?)
Luckily, they let us continue on our way, but the situation could have easily ended badly. This anecdote should be a lesson to guys, too. I’m sure my friend was mortified when the Public Safety peeps pegged him as a date rapist. But, just like the crazy, drunken antics mentioned above will red flag a drunk college student, a pair of horny kids who can’t make it back to the dorm room will also raise the suspicions of the University 5-0.
3. Be careful with your Fake.
If you have someone who is of age that can make a beer run for you, don’t even try to buy your own booze. At my school, all of the campus liquor stores had walls covered with confiscated fake ID’s. It’s a lot easier to get served at a bar or restaurant than it is to purchase booze from the store. FYI.
Still, you need to research the bars you attempt to get in to. Everyone at my school knew which bars would let in the worst fakes, which states made for the worst fakes, etc. I once had a fake ripped up by the manager of a new campus bar, because they were on the lookout for New York ID’s after being watched closely by the Po.
One more little tale: I knew a girl who got fined because she left her wallet at a gas station, and somehow, the cops found her fake ID in it. If a cop sees you with a fake for any reason, it can constitute fraud. Just food for thought.
4. Keep it inconspicous.
If you are walking to a party, don’t crack open a Natty Ice on the street. Don’t fill a Coca-Cola bottle with vodka. And don’t help a friend carry a case of beer if you are a minor. In many states, you can’t even handle alcohol if you are a minor. So if the cops are scouting out the liquor store, and card you and your of-age friend as you drag a shopping cart full of Patron to your car, you might get in trouble, even if you’re stone-cold sober and the bottles are unopened.
Even if you are trying to hide the libations you are hauling to the party, be careful. Ironically, backpacks scream “hidden alcohol,” especially when you are en route to a quad party on a warm Saturday evening. The cops may ask you open your bag, and having 30 beers fall out might put a damper on your weekend.
5. Stay current on campus news.
If there are four bars on campus, and three of them have been raided in the past month, you might want to lay low in order to avoid a sting operation on the fourth bar. Try to catch wind of any rumors that Tequila Tom’s might get raided.
Of course, if you are friendly with the bar staff, they might look out for you as well, because they want to save their own ass as much as you want to save yours. I’ve been flat out told by bouncers that they couldn’t let me in because they anticipated a raid; a year later, those same bouncers planned an “escape route” through the kitchen for the only girl in our group who had yet to hit the big 2-1.
6. Don’t advertise.
This goes along with watching your behavior and being mindful of your fake ID, but it’s the number one reason a minor will get busted. If you’re drinking in your room, don’t leave bottles and cans strewn about for your RA to see. Don’t display your shot glasses and your funnel. Many schools today even have rules that no alcohol-related decorations (posters, etc) may be displayed in “dry” dorms.
Just being alert to the fact that many people on campus are looking out for underage drinking can help you make smart decisions. It’s really not difficult to evade the disciplinarians at your school, and before you know it, you’ll be passing down your fake ID to your younger siblings and telling them to use it wisely. Take your time to get to know your campus and it’s policies. You have four years of partying awaiting you, so there’s plenty of time to tune up your beer pong skills.