Letter: RhodeMap uses 'multiple approaches'

Published: Wednesday, November 2, 2005

11/02/05 - To the Cigar

I am writing in response to the Cigar editorial, "RhodeMap policy redundant" (Oct. 28). In criticizing the RhodeMap to Safety campaign's Cooperating Tavern and Cooperating Liquor Store programs, the author stated that the problem of illegal alcohol purchases by underage students "does not lie in the stores that sell to underage students," but rather with the underage student "who feels the need to go out and use a fake ID to get alcohol illegally." The author further advised that the RhodeMap to Safety campaign should not spend its money on these programs and instead should be "educating students about drinking heavily or drunk driving."

We agree completely that we need to address those underage URI students who might be tempted to use a false ID to buy alcohol. Clearly, misrepresenting one's identify - for whatever reason - is a serious matter that requires a law enforcement response. But the best way that we can address this problem is to make our students aware that local bars, taverns and package stores are training their clerks to check IDs and to turn over false IDs. That is exactly why we launched the Cooperating Tavern and Cooperating Package Store programs.

URI students should look for storefront signs in Narragansett that say "Responsible Alcohol Beverage Service Practiced Here." This means no alcohol service for customers under age 21, customers who are intoxicated, or customers whose continued drinking would put them at risk of intoxication. For more information, visit the RhodeMap to Safety web site at www.uri.edu/alcohol/rhodemap.

We also believe that it's important to use multiple approaches to "educate students about drinking heavily or drunk driving." That's why we've given over $40,000 to the Narragansett and URI Police to increase enforcement activities and spent thousands more publicizing this increased enforcement. It's important that students know that DUI enforcement is a priority and that the likelihood of being arrested for driving under the influence has never been higher.

It was never the intent of RhodeMap to Safety to imply that Narragansett retailers don't take enforcement of the minimum legal drinking age and responsible beverage service seriously. We know that they do. Our goal is to use our team's collective 30+ years of experience in the area of alcohol abuse prevention to work with Narragansett alcohol retailers AND to provide them with positive publicity for their demonstration of civic responsibility. We also intend to keep working until all Narragansett alcohol retailers are part of the Cooperative Tavern Agreement.

Mark Wood
Associate Professor
Co-Director, URI's Common Ground