Community rethinks bar nights after over 20 citations

Thursday nights, dubbed “Bar Nights,” are a revered tradition among students. Each week, students go into town and enjoy what the local restaurants and bars have to offer. Be it dancing, karaoke, or rum buckets, Thursday nights are intended to add variety to the social scene for students over 21. The jovial atmosphere was interrupted, however, last Thursday, March 2, when over 20 underage Colby students received citations for underage drinking and using fake IDs.

Charlie Giguere, the owner of Silver Street Tavern for the past six years said in an interview that during the incident he was out of town, but he knows a call was made to the Waterville Police Department, which prompted officers to show up and question individuals on their way out.

A Colby junior, who would like to remain anonymous and was among the students cited, described a chaotic scene. “The bar was pretty hectic—the entire entrance was crowded with cops and all of the exits were blocked by bouncers…people were freaking out,” they said.

Local bars and restaurants often struggle with correctly identifying fake IDs.“It’s difficult because there are so many students and also many IDs from different states,” said Giguere. This difficulty was evident on Thursday, when Giguere’s employees confiscated numerous fake IDs. “We have manuals and we use UV lights, and we ended up confiscating a number of fake IDs. Then, despite our best efforts to confiscate all of the fake IDs, there were obviously people who passed the test and who shouldn’t have,” he said. Giguere also believed that there was a real ID that was wrongly believed to be falsified.

Giguere was not shocked by the notion of underage students trying to access the bar. “They’re doing what many college students do…they’re trying to join the party even though they may not have reached the age of 21 yet,” Giguere said.

Despite his understanding tone, he made it clear that the bar has a duty to follow the law. “We have to do our best to protect our liquor license, so we have professional doormen that are trained in spotting faulty IDs. We’ve all gone to college and we understand that everybody wants to be at the party. However, I also have the responsibility to follow the law and do what’s right by my business so that I protect our license.”

The anonymous junior alluded to the ease with which many underage students still manage to get around the law. “Many students do get into bar nights underage–it’s typically quite easy. People have been turned away from [Silver Street] and other bars in the past, but more often than not you will not have a problem getting in underage,” they said.

Giguere said he does not believe Silver Street Tavern will be facing repercussions from the Waterville Police Department. “They respect that I provide good security and make a valiant effort to not let minors into the building,” he explained.

For the students who received citations and summons, their court date has been scheduled for April 18.

After President David A. Greene and Dean of the College Karlene Burrell-McRae ’94 did not respond to requests for comment from the Echo, Director of Communications Kate Carlisle issued a statement from the College over email. “The health and safety of our students and our relationship with the local community are important priorities for the College. The College is also very clear in its expectations that students respect and adhere to all laws and regulations on and off campus. We are proud of our good relationship with Waterville’s businesses and will continue to work with business owners to ensure everyone’s safety and wellbeing,” Carlisle’s email read.

Carlisle clarified that the College “has long had a program to help businesses verify identification.”

Senior Class Co-President Caroline Dove, who is responsible for organizing the weekly bar night, said she has not heard directly from the Silver Street Tavern regarding the incident, but she is sure they have some serious concerns. “We hope that we can help them find a way to continue to host while avoiding future incidents like the one that occurred last weekend,” she said.

Moving forward, Giguere does not believe that the events Thursday night will have any kind of lasting effect of Silver Street Tavern’s relationship with the College. “We’re going to continue to do business as usual which is to make a good faith effort at the door. We want you all to come back and we hope that this does not injure our relationship with Colby students and Thursday bar nights,” he said.

Another anonymous underage student thought that the incident would change the social scene. “I think this will definitely dissuade younger students from attending bar night, which was probably one of the goals of the police. It is my prediction that all of the bars that host bar night for Colby are going to get a lot stricter with IDs,” they said.

Rita Menoudarakos, the owner of The Endzone, a restaurant and sports bar that frequently hosts bar night said that there is limited interaction between her business and the Colby community outside of Thursday night bar nights, known as “Colby Nights.” Regarding the interactions she does have with the Colby community, she believes the relationship is great.  “Students are usually very respectful. Other than they make a decent mess, they’re generally respectful,” she said.

Dove confirmed downtown bars are concerned with students vandalizing their venues. “I think the downtown bars are in a tough position since they enjoy hosting Colby students, bar night generates a lot of revenue for them, and they like finding ways to close the Colby-Waterville divide. But I think they worry it will get to the point where it’s not worth it for them to continue to host us. I don’t think Colby students understand that these bars are already struggling to survive and have some financial issues, so when we come in and break stuff it only makes things significantly harder for them,” Dove explained.

As far as the mess goes, Menoudarakos is understanding, and focuses primarily on continuing a dialogue of respect between her employees and students. “It’s a bar night so they tend to make messes for sure, but as far as having issues with students being verbally rude or disrespectful there’s no problem. Everyone is really polite, and they just make a big mess. I’ve seen it where they literally dump their drinks on the floor so they can take their glass with them, so that’s obviously unnecessary, but as long as they continue to be polite and kind then we won’t have any major problems,” she said.

The owner of Cancun Bar and Grill, Hector Funtes, shares Menoudarakos’ sentiments of mutual respect. “It all depends on how you treat people. If you treat people with respect, they will respond well, and I always treat people really well,” he said.