Eight students cited for providing alcohol to minors
September 27, 2019
Eight Bowdoin students were cited early Sunday morning for furnishing alcohol to minors at a party at the students’ off-campus residence. The party was held at 49 Pleasant Street, known by Bowdoin students as “Red Brick House.” All eight residents of the house are members of the men’s Ultimate Frisbee team.
The Brunswick Police Department (BPD) issued court summonses requiring the students to appear in court in mid-November. A 20-year-old student, who is not a resident of the house, lied about their age and was cited for possessing alcohol as a minor—a civil violation. The house residents may face more severe consequences.
Furnishing alcohol to minors is a class D misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of one year in jail and/or a $2,000 fine.
BPD Commander Mark Waltz said that the police action was not intended to serve as a warning to students.
“I wouldn’t say so much a warning. I think it’s probably just showing we meant what we said,” said Waltz.
“What we told the students was, ‘if you are honest with the officers and you’re respectful and cooperative, the first time we run into you, you’re likely to just get a warning for stuff like possession,’” Waltz said, citing a recent meeting with students living off campus.
“On the other hand, you don’t want to be the one providing the alcohol or the place to drink the alcohol because that’s a criminal thing. And we really can’t look the other way on that, so you’re likely to get charged,” Waltz continued.
Officers initially responded to an area adjacent to the home, near the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, after receiving a noise complaint from a neighbor, according to a police report.
Around 1 a.m. Sunday morning, police stopped and questioned four students who were walking on a sidewalk near the residence. In interviews with the Orient, three of the students said they performed breath tests at the request of police.
Waltz explained the devices were Preliminary Breath Tests, or PBTs, the results of which are not admissible in court as evidence of intoxication. The department’s only Intoxilyzer, which produces results that are admissible in court, is located at BPD headquarters.
The questioning lasted approximately 30 minutes, and one of the students described the officer’s demeanor as “hostile.”
“While [one officer] was writing things down and asking us individually where we were from and what our birthdays were, the other officer was kind of reinforcing these threats of ‘if you do not comply it will be a lot worse for you, so it would be much easier if you were just honest with us,’” said another of the students interviewed.
Waltz said the responding officers then proceeded to the residence after they saw students leaving the house.
After entering the Pleasant Street residence, police issued the summonses to each of the residents. Two of those cited are 22, five are 21 and one is 20.
“The eight people that were summonsed admitted they were tenants of the apartment,” said Chief of Police Richard Rizzo.
The responding officers also issued warnings to some of the underage students who were in the house.
“I’m sorry to everyone who was at the house when the police showed up. [It’s] not an easy situation for anyone,” said one of the residents in an email to the Orient. “I hope other off-campus houses can use us as a wake-up call just to be safe and careful going forward.”
“Obviously there won’t be parties at Red Brick in the foreseeable future, and the bottom line is we’re going to protect ourselves,” said the same student in a subsequent interview.
Of the seven other residents, three declined to be interviewed, while the other four did not respond to a request for comment.
Editor’s Note: It is the policy of the Orient not to publish the names of students accused of a crime until they have been formally charged.
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“On the other hand, you don’t want to be the one providing the alcohol or the place to drink the alcohol because that’s a criminal thing. And we really can’t look the other way on that, so you’re likely to get charged,” So BPD really has no idea Bowdoin furnishes a place for minors to drink every week at social houses, and even outdoors during Ivies? Seems like they just “look the other way” in these cases. The department consistently enforces the law in an arbitrary and hostile manner. Sad!
I think BPD acknowledges that college houses and other on campus housing are much more removed from the surrounding community. BPD doesn’t actively seek out underage drinking, rather they were responding to noise complaints by Brunswick residents. Most on campus complaints are dealt with by Bowdoin Security and therefore BPD never has a significant enough reason to investigate them.
Waltz’ point was that the officers could not “look the other way” when it comes to furnishing a place for minors to drink. Surely BPD knows that underage people are drinking on Bowdoin property every weekend, but chooses to look the other way because the noise does not cause complaints. Just because Bowdoin security deals with on campus underage drinking does not make it legal. Enforcing laws differently on campus vs off campus is by definition arbitrary. The reality is that 18-20 year old college students are going to be drinking. While handing out citations may make parties smaller and therefore more exclusive, but it will not stop underage people from drinking.
Student ’22 is a cop.
Who calls it “Red Brick House”? Everyone knows it’s just “Red Brick.”
“BPD doesn’t actively seek out underage drinking…”
Rest assured students. Brunswick police actively look for you–same as last year. They circle your block repeatedly on party nights while neglecting other areas of Brunswick. (When’s the last time you saw a police car at the 7-11, that bastion of civility where someone was shot a few years ago.) They may stop you just because you are walking down the sidewalk at night.
Maine’s citizens have the oldest avereage age in the country, so many Brunswick residents are tucked in bed, covers to their chins by 9:00. The noise complaints as chattering students make their way home are inevitable. Beware the officers who shut down the party, shooing you away with a warning, as well. Their cohort may be lurking around the corner, waiting to pounce on partygoers as they disembark for home.
Meanwhile, as BPD works to ensure the average resident-age remains high (Afterall, what young adult would remain beyond graduation in such a pious, youth-unfriendly place), Bowdoin’s administation will stick their heads in the sand and do nothing. They can’t even keep the BPD from citing infractions on campus.
It is time to expect more from Bowdoin. Best of luck!