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Lecture discusses off-campus activity

Sarah Mervosh | Thursday, January 29, 2009

Last night, Student Government brought speaker C.L. Lindsay to campus to inform students of underage drinking laws, and to share his legal advice on how to throw a police-free party and what to do if the cops do show up.

Lindsay, the executive director of the Coalition for Student and Academic rights, advised students to take a few key steps in order to throw a police-free party, the most important step being making nice with your neighbors.

The most common reason for the police to show up at parties is because of a noise complaint from the neighbors, Lindsay said. In order to avoid this, students should approach their neighbors and let them know about the party beforehand, he said.

“Let them know that you are having a party and most importantly … if there’s a problem, [tell them to] tell you. Don’t tell the police,” said Lindsay. “Don’t ever underestimate the power of a crappy gift, [like] a $5 bottle of wine … Trust me, it’s midnight. It’s loud. They’re angry. But then they say, ‘Oh but that’s that nice boy who bought us a box of Franzia.'”

He also said students should make sure all of their parties are indoors, and in the basement, if possible. Not only does this help with noise, but Lindsay also said the law states that any signs of underage drinking or alcohol that can be seen in public give the police reasonable suspicion, which gives them a legal opportunity to enter the residence.

He also said students need to be careful with invitations, especially online invitations.

“You don’t want to make it a public event,” he said. “If everybody’s invited, that includes the enforcement.”

Another suggestion when throwing a party is to put two signs outside the party. The first should say, “This is a private party. No one is permitted to enter unless they have been specifically invited,” Lindsay said. The second one should say, “You must be 21 or older to drink alcohol,” he said.

Off-campus junior Steve DeLaurentis, who attended the lecture, said posting signs like this “was something I had never heard of before,” and something that could be useful when throwing off-campus parties.

Lindsay also warned that it is illegal to have an entry fee to get into the party, or to charge for the liquor. He added that claiming to charge for a red cup but the alcohol was free will not pass in any court of law.

Despite following all these suggestions, Lindsay said the police may still show up. If that happens he said no more than two people, who are sober, should be sent outside. They should move the discussion away from the door and close the door behind them.

The most important rule to remember when dealing with the police, though, is “don’t be a jerk,” he said.

“So many people come out, want to be a hero, and say ‘Screw you. You don’t have a right to be here,'” said Lindsay, who went on to suggest thinking of dealing with the police like taking a test.

“You would never open up your bluebook and write, ‘Dear Professor… I think professors suck. I resent your authority. You can’t get me! … Essay one, Agriculture,'” he joked.

He also mentioned that if the police ask to search the house, the owner does not have to give their consent.

“You absolutely have a right to say, ‘I don’t agree to a search,'” Lindsay said. But if the police insist on searching, you should allow them to do so.

The majority of the lecture was focused on off-campus parties, but Lindsay also mentioned on-campus parties.

“The one thing I can tell you is it really is pretty lenient,” he said. “Don’t complain, don’t rock the boat. I know that’s not what you want to hear, [but] it’s not that bad.”

Lindsay also said that the Fourth Amendment, protecting unreasonable search and seizure, only applies to government officials.

“Your [resident advisor], your rector, they don’t have to follow the bill of rights [because they are part of a private insitution]. Police do,” Lindsay said. NDSP must abide by the Fourth Amendment, he said.

While DuLac creates a contract between students and the University and students therefore need to follow it, he said, but that contract can’t override the Fourth Amendment.

Freshman Christi Chelsky, who attended the lecture to learn what the drinking laws were in Indiana and how they differed from her home sate, said much of the lecture didn’t apply to her because, “a lot of the stuff was geared towards the people who are 21 and throwing the parties.”

But she said that Lindsay “was really informative and he presented it in a way that got people’s attention and that was amusing.”