Despite Coastal Carolina University’s best efforts, there remains an underage drinking problem.
Coastal Carolina University has been fighting its reputation for being a party school since 2017. According to a 2017 study released by ProjectKnow.com, out of all large four-year colleges in the nation, Coastal Carolina had the highest number of liquor law violations with a total of 1,081 arrests that year. The school responded with increased disciplinary efforts and mandatory alcohol education training for incoming students. The number decreased to 890 in CCU’s 2019 Clery report.
While there are less alcohol incidents on campus, students have chosen to frequent bars instead and throw less parties. Students often frequent Tongy’s Shmack House, The American Tavern, and The Coop. Due to their proximity to CCU, these bars cater to large crowds of college students and have larger crowds than bars that are further away. However, even if students go to the bars, there is no guarantee that they can get in.
Corrine Murtha, who has been employed at Tongy’s for five years, said that while much of their crowd is Coastal students, they have strict rules for underage students. The American Tavern follows a similar policy.
“[Underage students] are allowed in until nine, but after nine they have to be 21 to get in,” Murtha said. “It’s easier for us that way. We don’t have to worry about underage students drinking if they aren’t in the bar.”
The most popular of the three, The Coop, allows students into the bar regardless of their age. Students who are 21 or older get into the bar for free, but underage students pay a fee that ranges from $10 to $50 at the door. People that are 21 and older receive special bands created by the club. Underage students have their hands marked with an X and are given a different band.
The manager of The Coop, Joe Sabetelli, understands that the pricing is high, but does not plan to change it.
“When letting [underage students] in, we still have to consider revenue,” said Sabetelli. “We have one of the only places [underage students] can go to enjoy themselves, but when they get in, they can’t buy any of our drinks. The cover they pay makes up for the losses that we take by letting them into the bar.”
Because of pricing and the lack of places for underage students to go out, they have resorted to purchasing fake identification.
According to CCU Capt. Thomas Mezzapelle, fake IDs aren’t only an issue at bars, but on campus as well.
“In a full calendar year, we make around 200 alcohol related arrests, so a few every weekend. About one-third of the underage people we arrest due to alcohol related offenses are in possession of a fake ID,” said Mezzapelle.
According to Coastal Law, a law firm based in Myrtle Beach, students can face serious charges if caught.
Students who are caught with alcohol and false identification run the risk of committing a misdemeanor and can be charged with knowingly possessing alcohol and misidentification. These charges are punishable by fines up to $200. In addition to fines, students can receive 30 days in jail and will be required to attend alcohol safety training classes.