Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Miami dampens Green Beer Day



By Reid Forgrave
The Cincinnati Enquirer

OXFORD - Miami University students with plans to spend next week on a beach may do well to drink less of the green stuff Thursday, or they could wind up staying in Oxford picking up trash.

Green Beer Day, the decades-old Oxford tradition in which students give an early welcome to spring break and St. Patrick's Day by drinking green beer before dawn, is facing more crackdowns by Oxford police and school officials who said the day encourages binge drinking.

Police warn that anyone arrested for alcohol-related violations during Green Beer Day on Thursday will be jailed and taken to court, where police will ask the judge to make them perform community service during next week's spring break.

"That sure would bust your spring break, to have to do eight hours of community service in the middle of the week," said Oxford Police Chief Stephan Schwein.

Oxford police will have officers - in plainclothes and in uniform - patrolling the streets Thursday and entering bars. Bars will beef up their own security, too, and state liquor control agents will be undercover.

But some bar operators and students anticipate a big day.

"It's just about being with your friends and celebrating that spring break is around the corner," said Amy Hungler, a senior.

"It's always just off the hook, with people banging on our doors like they've never been in a bar before," said Tyler Marriott, day manager at Mac & Joe's bar off High Street, where proprietors have ordered about a dozen kegs of green beer for the day. "Most people just skip their classes."

University officials say with the crackdowns and increased concerns about binge drinking, there's less participation now.

"Our biggest concern is the safety issue - people getting up at dawn, drinking, then going on spring break," said university spokeswoman Holly Wissing.

Administration officials sent out a letter this year, instructing professors not to cancel Thursday classes.

Zoology professor Ron Wiley is giving students a physiology exam Thursday morning - on green paper. "When I thought about giving an exam on Green Beer Day, I thought, 'Maybe that's good.'"

E-mail rforgrave@enquirer.com




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