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Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | NOVEMBER 01, 2013 5:00 AM

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Keep 21-only

Each side, in its zeal for its cause, often portrays the 21-ordinance as either a magic cure for all evil or the root source of the evil itself. In our opinion, the 21-ordinance is neither a cure-all nor some conspiracy to take culture and business out of downtown Iowa City. We support voting NO because we see the 21-ordinance as one step toward a more vibrant downtown.

Restaurants, shops, bars, and performing-arts venues are all part of what makes a city special. But people — and how they treat each other — are what makes a town truly great. It sickens us every time we hear of people getting physically or sexually assaulted downtown. We grieve every time we hear of another life lost due to excessive alcohol use, whether because of drunk driving, alcohol poisoning, or other factors.

Opponents are correct: Not all physical and sexual violence is caused by the abuse of alcohol. However, as UI officials, faculty, and students have worked in the last few years with entrepreneurs and community leaders to discourage excessive drinking rates on many fronts, violence rates downtown have gone down. The 21-ordinance is one of the steppingstones used to do this, so let’s not remove it now.

Those opposed to the 21-ordinance are not trying to promote violence or self-harm in Iowa City. They fear nightlife and business downtown will die out or become boring. Yet downtown culture continues to thrive after three years of the ordinance. Most downtown business owners support continuing the 21-ordinance. We are becoming both a safer and a more vibrant culture.

Why should we go back?

Finally, no matter where you stand on this issue, we should ask: Why is extreme drinking part of our culture? What drives us to celebrate and encourage each other to drink until blacking out or doing serious harm to oneself or others? Instead, may we all do our part to make sure that everyone’s future remains bright.

Dan Bovenmyer
Association of Campus Ministers

I have lived downtown in a core Historic District and rented to wonderful students for many years. Since limiting bar entry to over 21, my neighborhood has been quieter. Enforcement of the noise ordinance and police warnings to loud parties have been effective in teaching consideration to new students.

Iowa City is defined by a culture of learning and should support a healthy environment for students at this formative stage. The ages 18 to 21 are dynamic times for students experimenting with different activities. Recent studies indicate brain maturation continues until 26. It is crucial that young people gain life experience in a safe environment before they are surrounded by alcohol and unpredictable behavior in bars. We have a law reserving buying alcohol after 21 years of age.

Please join me and vote NO to 19-year-olds in bars after 10 p.m.

Pam Michaud


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