Underage Drinking on College Campuses isn’t Going Anywhere
It’s a Friday night and you’ve got a pregame in an hour. You go to Campus Center dining hall and down four glasses of water, a mound of steaming hot rice, the driest chicken breast available, and refuse to eat your greens because you’ve got very specific plans to break the law tonight. In your wallet is an ID that says you were born in March 1997 and appears to be issued in the state of Connecticut, except you’ve lived in New York your whole life. This little piece of plastic is your key to the wild world of brews, booze and even e-juice… if it fits your fancy.
On college campuses, it’s common to have friends with false identification or fake IDs. For some, it feels almost essential to engage in the art of pregaming, which includes binge drinking before going out to a nightclub or party. Binge drinking, as defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, is the consumption of five (four for women) or more drinks in a two-hour period.
“I know that, for some people, the general trend is to pregame and then go [out],” said Flynn*, a freshman. “You drink before you go out, go out, have a couple more and by that time you’re already cruising.”
But it’s 2019 and students aren’t exactly living out their “Animal House” fantasies. Also, the drinking age is 21 and not 18 like it was in 1978. Instead, Ithaca College students go to house parties — typically already in a drunken state — to dance and socialize but ultimately end up drenched in their own sweat.
Beer is a rare commodity at these parties because of how crowded they typically are. Pregaming is usually done to compensate for the lack of alcohol available. After a handful of friends drink themselves drunk, they pile into an Uber and venture off to one of the many promising addresses Ithaca has to offer.
When the parties are expected to suck or get busted, students with fake IDs always have a backup plan.
“The parties are fun, but they get shut down quick, so it’s nice having a fake in case you want to go out longer, so you go to [redacted] until one o’clock,” said Jackie*, a freshman. “I don’t think having a fake is essential, but it enhances your college life . . . it gives you more options.”
IDs are harder to replicate than they were 20 years ago. However, this hasn’t stopped the growth of websites like King of Fakes and ID God, which sport tantalizing header images of parties and concerts.
It is incredibly easy to purchase a fake ID. Once you provide your credentials, a photo and a signature, you can expect it to come within 2-3 weeks.
While it may be easy to acquire a hyper-authentic identification, it’s still expensive. On ID God, it can cost up to $200 if you’re purchasing alone but can be as low as $40 if purchased with four or more people.
“My best friend was actually putting the order together, he used ID God, and I wrote my information into a text message and handed him cash,” said Deborah*, a freshman who ordered a fake ID prior to starting her freshman year.
ID God accepts payment through Western Union, which is a company that specializes in moving money across borders, and even Bitcoin. Not only can you purchase IDs representative of American states, but you can also buy Canadian and United Kingdom IDs.
Students who were interviewed about their fake IDs said that the likelihood of being caught is higher if someone tries to purchase at a liquor store instead of a convenience store. Damian Dodge, an employee at Top Shelf Liquor in Ithaca, N.Y., seconded this when he dumped a bag of over 100 confiscated fake IDs on the store’s counter upon Buzzsaw’s visit with him.
“We take the ID and stuff it in this little bag,” Dodge said. “I’ll try looking through a lot of these cards just to see if there’s any common patterns I find, and there’s a lot of them — we stack up on quite a few IDs.”
According to New York Alcohol Training, it is illegal for convenience or liquor store employees to confiscate fake IDs from people who are trying to purchase alcohol illegally. Instead, employees must refuse the sale of alcohol and should contact local law enforcement. However, this hasn’t stopped places like Top Shelf Liquor from taking fake IDs off of those who attempted to break the law.
Despite this, Dodge speculated the number of fake IDs potentially confiscated at Northside Wine & Spirits, which is also located in Ithaca. LocalWiki called it the biggest liquor store in town.
“We’re a small liquor store, so just imagine how many [IDs] can be found at a place like Northside,” Dodge said.
In the April 2011 issue of Buzzsaw, “Members Only,” Brian Hayes, a writer for the magazine, wrote an article about fake IDs in the Ithaca area. He referenced the process used by Wegmans employees when checking IDs.
“The policy at Wegmans is that anyone purchasing alcohol must show some form of ID, whether they are 21 or 91,” Hayes wrote.
In 2016, the CDC reported that 19 percent of individuals between the ages of 12 and 20 had consumed alcohol within the past 30 days.
According to Alcohol.org, college drinking occurs because of the freedom available to students and the social environments presented by typical events like frat parties. They also attribute this phenomenon to academic stress and reduced structure of time.
“You didn’t have time to experiment before it mattered,” Deborah* said. “You come here now, screw up and get kicked out of school — it explodes.”
Since the drinking age was raised from 18 to 21, college students have been forced to drink alcohol in their dorm rooms, at parties or in nightclubs through the use of fake IDs. It is a phenomenon that is rooted in high schools and even middle schools.
One of the major arguments against this is the fact that men become eligible to either join or be drafted into the military. However, definitions of the so-called age have changed since the 1980s. The United States Census Bureau stated that over 18 million students are enrolled in college across the country as of 2017.
“At 18 I’m eligible to fight [and] die for my country, handle a weapon used to take other lives, but I’m not mature enough to have a beer,” Flynn* said.
Regardless of gender, 17 and 18 year-olds make the decision to either go to college or pursue other careers. Deborah* said that at 18, young adults are required to make life-altering choices that people don’t give them enough credit for.
“If we’re old enough to live on our own, make decisions that affect us for the rest of our lives very drastically, join the military and be tried as a legal adult, we should be able to drink,” Deborah* said.
*Names have been changed to protect anonymity.
James Baratta is a first-year Journalism major who only drinks appletinis. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.