By PARKER FISH • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Despite Hartwick College and SUNY Oneonta students protesting that the “Social Hosting” law could have “unintended consequences,” Common Council voted unanimously to pass a law which would create a fine of up to $1000 for any person holding a party or social gathering where minors were found to be consuming alcohol or using other illicit drugs.
“I’m concerned that many students at both Oneonta and Hartwick will start drinking in other places,” said James Kavanaugh, a SUNY senior and president of the Inter-fraternity Council at SUNY Oneonta. “God forbid someone were to fall off Table Rock after drinking a little bit. I believe that there could be unintended consequences if [the council] were to vote yes on this resolution.”
“Back where I went to high school, there was a lot of drinking in the woods and in public parks by people,” said Jaclyn Clancy, also a SUNY student. “I am also concerned that if this ordinance were to pass, that people will resort to drinking in other places like Table Rock.”
The amendment, “Article II, Consumption of alcoholic beverages by minors on private property” was an amendment to Chapter 62 of the city’s law and states, “It is the purpose of this article to protect the public interest, welfare, health and safetywithin the City of Oneonta by prohibiting the service to and consumption of alcoholic beverages and drugs by persons under the age of 21 at private residences located in the City of Oneonta… The Common Council finds further that persons under the age of 21 often obtain alcoholic beverages or drugs at such gatherings and that such persons who are in control of such residences know or have reason to know of such service and/or consumption and will be more likely to ensure that alcoholic beverages and drugs are neither served to nor consumed by persons under the age of 21 at these gatherings.”
“This is not just a targeted issue in respect to students,” said Council member Michele Frazier, First Ward. “While I understand why there is a great deal of interest from the students, it is not just a student issue.”
“I’m not from here, I’m originally from New York City,” explained Council member Dana Levinson, Fifth Ward. “Whenever I said I was going to Oneonta, people said ‘Oh it’s the party town’ and we don’t want to be known as the party town.”
Levinson explained that one goal of the law is to create a more family friendly environment for parents raising children in the village. “My children are still very little, but they are growing up in this city, and I don’t want them to be the party kids of the city,” she said.
The council unanimously passed the motion, effectively signing the proposition into law. A public hearing on the law will be held at the next Council meeting on Tuesday, April 3.
Although Kavanaugh requested holding the meeting in a larger setting to accommodate a larger audience, Herzig denied the request, stating that the meetings are traditionally held in the council chambers.
“To be honest, it was expected,” said Kavanaugh remarking on the motion passing. “I plan on talking to some of the other students leaders and seeing their opinions also.”