Keep Eau Claire a safe place for students

Voting against the Public Good Order ordinance will keep the safety of students a priority


This map outlines the areas affected by the proposed ordinance changes. Voting occurs on March 13.

Many students know about the proposed city ordinance changes in the works to help reduce public intoxication and public disturbance along with new laws on the polices distribution of citations.

These proposed changes will create room for more harm, by creating a lack of transportation and harm safety precautions currently in place.

On March 1, the Eau Claire Blue Bus — more commonly known as “the drunk bus” — Facebook page posted its suspension of their safe ride service because of the ordinance. The ordinance states that no more than 10 people at a time can be dropped off along a city block in the Randall Park neighborhood.

This suspension puts students at risk, and if the ordinance passes, will add to the lack of transportation which would mean students don’t have a safe way to get home.

According to The National Organization on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Prevention, 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related accidents, including motor-vehicle crashes each year. Taking away and putting harsh laws on safe transportation for students is not solving a problem but creating a bigger one.

College students will drink regardless of laws set in place. Public intoxication and public disturbance will not be eradicated by these changes, but will make for more situations that could have been prevented by the safe ride services and public spaces meant for drinking.

The ordinance states people who are demonstratively intoxicated can not enter or remain in a public establishment even if alcohol is served there.

Taking away the resources for safe drinking allows for alcohol-related accidents while students try to walk or drive home.

UW-Eau Claire’s Student Advocates for Sexual Assault Survivors posted on Facebook encouraging students to speak out about the ordinance. They emphasized the issue of sexual assault that may occur with the lack of transportation and safety measures for students.

Nearly 30 percent of all sexual assaults occur when a person is traveling to or from school, according to The National Sexual Assault Hotline.

Instances in the past of students drowning in the river is a major concern brought up by those who oppose the ordinance as well. With students having to walk home, it increases the likelihood of situations of sexual assault, drunk driving and drownings of students that could be prevented by safe ride services.

Since the ordinance pertains to the Randall Park neighborhood, a neighborhood occupied by a large amount of student housing, the increased regulations of public disturbance and loitering is a concern with students being able to walk to and from the bars or host events at their homes.

The ordinance will prohibit people standing and gathering on sidewalks and in the streets and anyone who is perceived as annoying while walking on sidewalks may be issued a $295 citation.

With stricter laws on furniture and other objects on outdoor properties, and on the volume of voices, students who pay to live in the area are subjected to unpleasant regulations.

Telling house renters what can and can’t be in their lawns for more than 24 hours is nonsensical, as it causes no harm to people other than the renters.

The section of the ordinance that states people are unable to stay in an establishment that serves alcohol while being visibly intoxicated begs the question of where else they may partake in those events, if of legal age. If students can’t be intoxicated at home due to public disturbance (noise complaints), and they can’t at an establishment made for those events, then where can they?

Students won’t stop drinking even if this ordinance were to pass. Instead of trying to micromanage a neighborhood largely made up of students, Eau Claire City Council should continue to provide safety for college students.

Student Senate should have been involved in the drafting of this ordinance because it will affect students the most. Student Senate and Eau Claire students said their main concern is student safety if this ordinance were to pass, according to an article from The Spectator.

Taking away transportation and putting harsher laws on public disturbance in all its forms won’t make college-age drinking go away. Eau Claire is a college town, and it is important for the city to recognize the rights of a large percentage of the citizens in this community and help provide safe experiences.  

With the hearing on March 12 and the vote for this ordinance on March 13, it is important that students stand up for their safety and the safety of the community as a whole to preserve the actions already in place that help make Eau Claire a safe place.