Special to Mustang News
San Luis Obispo City Council member Dan Carpenter called out Cal Poly’s vice president for Student Affairs and the city’s mayor on Monday on the issue of pre-commencement drinking, writing an op-ed for The San Luis Obispo Tribune that urged them to “stop interfering with personal choice in the consumption of a product that is legally served in our community.”
“I think it’s government out of control. I think it’s trying to inflict some personal opinions or bias on businesses that are legally operating a legitimate business.”
—City Council member Dan Carpenter
In a letter sent on April 16, San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx and Cal Poly Vice President for Student Affairs Keith Humphrey asked downtown bars to stop serving alcohol before 9 a.m. on the mornings of spring graduation.
Carpenter told Mustang News he wrote the op-ed piece because he did not want people to read the mayor’s name and think the letter reflected the city council’s opinion as a whole, or that it was the city’s position to encourage the bars to close for the two graduation mornings.
“It’s her opinion and she’s welcome to it, just like I’m welcome to my opinion,” Carpenter said. “I felt like since she’s the leader of the City Council, then people would assume that’s all of our positions — and mine is certainly not that.”
Carpenter said that he thinks it is “a bad idea” to recommend when businesses should and should not operate.
“They are operating legally under the law, and they have the right to open when they want to,” Carpenter said. “I believe, when it comes to drinking, it’s personal responsibility.”
If students are drunk and disruptive at graduation, he added, the fault doesn’t fall on the bars for serving them alcohol — it falls on the students for drinking too much.
Instead of closing the bars, the city’s law enforcement should have a zero-tolerance policy for students who choose to be drunk in public or drive while under the influence, Carpenter said.
“That should be an automatic trip to jail, with a DUI or a drunk in public,” Carpenter said.
Serious repercussions would make students realize the importance of taking responsibility for their actions, Carpenter said.
“Long-term, that will have more of an impact than asking the bars to close,” he said. “Because if you ask the bars to close three hours before the graduation, students are still going to drink somewhere else. So what’s the point?”
Carpenter said he thinks the bars will stay open for graduation to make money.
“I don’t hear anyone offering to compensate them for their loss of revenue that morning,” Carpenter said. “I don’t hear the mayor or vice president doing that.”