Social Host Ordinance extended

The city of St. Paul has expanded the Social Host Ordinance and Zero Adult Provider (ZAP) program, leading to increased enforcement and greater penalties for violations. The law and the ZAP program have a zero tolerance policy for underage consumption.

The law, which went into effect in December of 2009, is designed to hold hosts, especially chronic offenders, accountable for events where underage drinking occurs. First time offenders can participate in a diversion program that includes a panel discussion, a fine of $150, and 16 hours of community service. Repeat offenders are subject to 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.

Macalester students who violate the Social Host Ordinance also go through the college conduct board process to assess the problem. That can include working with neighbors and landlords, discussing alternative approaches to social gatherings and planning with school staff members.

According to the Ordinance, other persons living in the same residence can also be charged under the Social Host Ordinance if they are found complicit or in conspiracy with the host. This means that someone underage living in a house with roommates of age could violate the ordinance, as their name is on the lease of the residence.
Laura Myers ’15 voiced concern about the measure.

“It definitely raises a discussion,” she said. “I live with three people of age. I would speak to them about it.”
Ross Hutchens ’15 echoed Myers in two words.

“That sucks,” he said.

Facilitating discussion and accountability among residents is the primarily goal of the ZAP Program, which aims to stop underage consumption before it starts by working closely with local colleges, universities, and students.

“When the city council created it they thought it would be an incentive for hosts to be more assertive about controlling the environment,” said Dean of Students Jim Hoppe, citing the law as a needed response to out-of-control parties.

Each week, Hoppe and other staff members at Twin Cities colleges receive a list of all violations that occurred during the past week from an assistant Ramsey County Attorney. This allows administrators and law enforcement to identify repeat offenders.

“About 95 percent don’t involve Macalester students,” Hoppe said, citing the neighborhood’s high concentration of students from colleges around the Twin Cities.

“Things start off innocently and people forget about the impact of their actions,” Hoppe said. “It’s not their intent to cause a problem. Only when you’re in college is a party of thirty considered small.”