Archive for the ‘Schiller, Kristin’ Category

Iowa City Drinking Culture

By Kristin Schiller

University of Iowa student walking downtown Photo by Kristin Schiller

Iowa City has a distinct drinking culture.  It is unique in that campus and downtown are essentially side-by-side.  While numerous articles have been written regarding alcohol consumption in Iowa City, I attempt to show new angles of University of Iowa students’ drinking behaviors through stories about fake ID use in Iowa City, local bar crawls, and an interview with a UI student about fake IDs.  To protect students from legal ramifications, many names have been left out.

Fake ID Q&A with UI Student

I interviewed a University of Iowa student about his fake ID use.  To protect him from legal ramifications, I have not included his name.  To read the full stories on fake ID use in Iowa City or bar crawls in Iowa City, click on the links at the end of this article.

By Kristin Schiller

Thanks for agreeing to talk with me today.  I just have a few questions.  First, how long did you use your fake ID?

I used it from about one month into my freshman year of college until I turned 20 years old.

Why did you stop using it?

I stopped using it because I moved to Cedar Rapids and started going to the bars there.  In Cedar Rapids, they never even checked my ID so it was unnecessary.

Did you ever get caught or have negative consequences from using your fake ID?

No, I did not.  And I’m lucky.  Those fines are outrageous.

How easy was it for you to get a fake ID?

When I was a freshman one of the guys living on my floor in the dorm made fake IDs and I knew him pretty well.  All he had to do was take my picture and have me sign on a piece of paper.  The process only took about half an hour.  I gave him my money and two and a half weeks later I had a fake ID.

How much did it cost you?

$60

Once he had your picture and signature, what was included in the process for making the final fake ID?

The middleman takes your picture and signature and he puts them into a computer program.  On that same program, he matches the graphics and holograms from an actual state ID.  After he combines the graphics with the picture and signature, he sends it to a company and the company prints off the combined graphics onto a blank ID and sends the final product back to the middleman.

How long does that process usually take?

It usually takes two to three weeks.  I got mine in about two and a half weeks.

Are you able to be a part of this process?  How much input do you get?

I was able to choose which state’s hologram I wanted but once it was sent to the company, I didn’t know what status the process was in until I received the ID from the middleman.

How is the company able to allow actual state graphics to go on an ID they know isn’t real?

See, here’s the trick.  They make minor changes which are barely noticeable to most people.  They don’t actually put the real holograms and graphics onto an ID without these minor changes because there is a steep penalty if they are caught helping out kids who want fake IDs.  But most people, like bouncers, who are checking IDs don’t know the real states’ graphics or what the difference is on the fake ones.  It’s genius.

So it’s a company who makes real IDs too?

Yes.  Obviously not every place will do it but if you know someone who is working there, they can help you out.

How often and under what circumstances did you use your fake ID?

I used my fake [ID] whenever I was going to the bars in Iowa City or when I was buying alcohol in Iowa City at a liquor store.

Under what circumstances would you not use your fake ID?

I would not use my fake [ID] if there were cops close to me or if a liquor store had an ID card reader.  It’s a lot easier to get caught with it in those circumstances.

Do you think more people are using fake IDs because of the 21 ordinance?

Yes.  While I do think a lot more underage kids are now drinking at house parties then there were before the 21 ordinance, the ones who decide to go downtown are either buying IDs from someone they know or using an ID from a friend who is 21.  There is no other way to get into the bars and drink with their friends who are of age.  Having a fake ID is becoming the only way underage kids are able to drink and  I don’t see how there couldn’t be a rise in [fake ID] use.

Thanks again for agreeing to talk with me.

For more information, visit Fake ID Use in Iowa City: On the Rise?, Iowa City Bar Crawls, or go back to the package’s main page.

Iowa City Bar Crawls

By Kristin Schiller

It is midnight in downtown Iowa City on a Friday and Sarah Flood is standing inside Union Bar wearing a light blue shirt with Brothers, Formosa, Union, Fieldhouse, and David’s Place listed on the back.  She is not promoting these bars; she is involved in a “bar crawl.”

Flood is one of hundreds of people who have participated in a bar crawl.  A bar crawl involves one or more people drinking in multiple bars in a single night, normally walking to each one between drinking.  Bar crawls are recognized because everyone involved wears the same shirt.

Birthday Bar Crawl T-shirt Photo by Kristin Schiller

Many people have bar crawls for their birthdays, but others can be designed for a variety of reasons.  Even though participants say bar crawls can be fun, they can create problems for downtown police.

An Outside View

Bar crawls are huge social events, according to Sarah Lafferty, former human resource assistant at the Sheraton Hotel downtown.

“Iowa City has more bars than you normally would see,” Lafferty said. “It’s fun to go out with a group of friends and to meet new people.”

Lafferty said she sees people coming and going from the Sheraton Hotel wearing bar crawl shirts every weekend.  While college students are depicted as the main group of people on bar crawls, adults have been known to participate as well.

“A lot of the time I see parents with their kids on the bar crawl,” Lafferty said.

Alumni bar crawls also come through Iowa City.  The biggest weekends for alumni are Homecoming and Parent’s Weekend, according to Lafferty.

Organizing Bar Crawls

A lot of work goes into organizing bar crawls.  Bars on the list need to be determined, money collected for the T-shirts, the T-shirts ordered and bar covers negotiated.

“It actually takes a lot of planning if you want a good successful bar crawl,” said Rachel Rose, who organized an April bar crawl with a friend.  “But if done correctly, they can be a lot of fun.  They give people the opportunity to possibly go to some bars they might not normally go to on a regular weekend,” she said.

Rose said it is important to plan ahead because mishaps happen.  Once, she had a T-shirt company back out at the last minute.

“We had to find someone else to print the shirts quickly, but we didn’t want to go to Shirt & Simple,” Rose said.

Bar Crawl T-shirts

While Rose decided to stay away from the popular T-shirt company Shirt & Simple, many people choose the easy-to-use online bar crawl service.  George Pfeiffer, president of Shirt & Simple Inc., said his company averages about five to 10 T-shirt orders per weekend.  Cost for bar crawl shirts varies depending on the color and style.

“Sometimes, when we’re busy, that number can grow as high as 20 different groups,” said Pfeiffer, whose shirt design Web site is paired up with Iowa City’s leading bar crawl organizing source, http://www.mybarcrawl.com.   The Web site runs in conjunction with Shirt & Simple, Inc., providing tips for organizing a bar crawl along with drink specials bars offer.

The Den in downtown Iowa City also prints designs for bar crawl shirts.  Rhett Depauw, the lead graphic designer at the Den, said March is a big season for bar crawls because it’s getting warmer and people are excited.

“Most of the time T-shirt designs are decided based on inside jokes or birthdays,” Depauw said.  “Every once in awhile you will see an intramural team come through here.”

Depauw said he does not always understand the things people put on their bar crawl shirts but he added that black and gold is the most popular color combo for obvious reasons.

“Most times people have a design and shirt theme ahead of time and will pick a product that has that color,” Pfeiffer said.  “Yet sometimes people will pick a color just because they like the look of it.”

“I don’t think the fear of standing out has ever really been a factor,” Depauw said.  “In fact, we just did an order of neon green shirts.”

Both Depauw and Pfeifffer noticed certain bars are more popular for bar crawls than others.  Six of 50 bars get most of bar crawl business, according to Pfeiffer.

“Summit is normally on all of them,” Depauw said, noting that the name of Summit is normally written backwards to disguise it on T-shirts.

Bar Crawl T-shirt disguises "Jakes" by spelling it backwards

“Although I don’t know why Jake’s and Summit don’t allow it,” said Depauw.  “You’d think they would want more advertisement.”

Bar Owners and Police Reactions

The owner of Summit and One Eyed Jake’s does not allow the names of his bars to be directly printed on bar crawl shirts.

Christa Walrath, a manager at Summit Restaurant & Bar, said the reason they don’t allow their name or logo on T-shirts is because they don’t want to associate themselves with bar crawls or excessive drinking.

Because bars offer drink specials to people wearing bar crawl shirts, excessive consumption of alcohol is the most common problem associated with this phenomenon.

Bar crawls can sometimes cause problems for police, often creating disturbances for business owners.

“Bar crawls themselves don’t really create problems because people tend to look after one another,” Iowa City Police Sgt. Troy Kelsay said.  “It’s the individuals who are irresponsible that attract attention.”

Kelsay said the most common charges against people who partake in bar crawls are Possession of Alcohol Under the Legal Age (PAULA), public intoxication, and unlawful use of identification.  People under 21 tend to think bar crawls are an easier method to get away with drinking underage, according to Kelsay.

“Whether police agree with the drinking age being 21, it is an easy line to follow,” Kelsay said.  “However, if you drink responsibly, chances are good you won’t have negative contact with police.”

While working at the Sheraton Hotel, Lafferty has seen many irresponsible bar crawls come through and create problems.

“It gets bad.  People get kicked out,” Lafferty said.  “One time we had a girl pee in the lobby.  She was standing up, skirt on and just started peeing.”

Flood said she believed people on bar crawls tend to watch out for one another.

“In my experience, if they’re on a bar crawl, they’re with other people and at least one person on the bar crawl is responsible who can watch over the others,” Flood said.

Lafferty said people should be careful and watch out for their friends.

“It’s all fun and games until someone has to go to the hospital.”

For more articles by Kristin Schiller, visit Fake ID Use in Iowa City: On the Rise?, Fake ID Q&A with UI Student, or go back to the package’s main page.

Fake ID Use in Iowa City: On The Rise?

By: Kristin Schiller

It is 11:32 p.m. on a Saturday on the pedmall and a University of Iowa student stands in line at Brothers bar using an ID he bought from another student.

The student, who ventured downtown with other students under 21 years old, isn’t an anomaly.  He is one of several UI students who has purchased a fake ID.

Underage student walking downtown with her fake ID. Photo by Kristin Schiller

The sophomore uses his fake ID whenever he goes to the bars in Iowa City or when he wants to buy alcohol at liquor stores.

“The only time I don’t use my [fake ID] is when there are cops near me,” said the 6 foot 3 inch student, who said fake ID use was on the rise.  He cited the 21 ordinance as the cause.

The 21 ordinance, enacted on June 1, 2010, denies people under the legal drinking age of 21 from being in bars in Iowa City after 10 p.m.

Police Reaction

While many students said they have noticed more people using fake IDs, Iowa City Police said they have seen a decrease in the use of fake IDs.  Police documents support this.  Records indicate only slight fluctuations in fake ID charges, but it is roughly the same from September 2008 to September 2010.  University of Iowa police records reflect the same findings.

While the numbers are similar to the past, the Iowa City Police Department says the numbers are still higher than what they want.  In fact, hundreds of confiscated IDs overflow gallon buckets inside the police station labeled “male,” “female” and “out-of-state.”

Local Business Owners

Local business owners also have not noticed any significant increases in fake ID use.

Doug Alberhasky, manager of John’s grocery, said he has seen a decline in the number of fake IDs.  John’s grocery employees check the IDs of anyone who look under 30 years old.  They use a card reader to test for authenticity.

As he stood inside Brothers Bar, the University of Iowa student said he would not attempt to use his fake ID at John’s Grocery.

“They are more serious than other places,” said the student. “I’d more likely get caught [at John’s Grocery] than at the bars.”

Other Student Opinions

Several students said fake ID use could be down because of the increase in house parties.  Sophomore Niusha Tavakoli said students are more likely to be at house parties than attempting to use a fake ID in a downtown bar.  Since the penalty for being in a bar underage is so high, most people aren’t risking it, she said.

“Most of my friends hang out at a house and play beer pong,” said Tavakoli.  “It’s more personal and we don’t have any issues with getting caught.”

If the 21 ordinance were to be reversed, Tavakoli said she would go downtown even though she is not yet 21 years old.

“I’d be more willing to take the chance,” said the 19-year-old.

Selling Fake IDs

One UI student who sells fake IDs said he saw a slight rise in sales but nothing significant.  Since the 21 ordinance took effect, the student-who wished to remain anonymous because of legal ramifications-said he saw a spike in sales during the first few weeks of class but those are always his busiest weeks.  That’s when new freshman come into town.

“[Freshmen] are always excited at first,” said the anonymous student. “Then they get their first ticket.  That’s when they finally slow down.”

Legal Fines

Possession of a fictitious ID carries one of the toughest penalties associated with trying to get into a bar.  According to Iowa City lawyer Mark Thompson, the penalty can be up to one year in jail and a fine up to $1,875. Fictitious IDs are ordered via the internet and not manufactured by an appropriate state authority.  Mere possession of this type of ID is a crime.

Possession of a fake ID, however, is not the only crime of which a person can be accused.  Misuse of a Driver’s License is also very common.  It occurs when a person uses another person’s ID in any fashion, representing it as their own.  Iowa City Police say this is a common charge for people who participate in bar crawls.  Thompson said it is only illegal to use someone else’s ID, not to possess it.  Conviction of this crime includes a small fine and no jail time.

A third crime associated with attempting to purchase alcohol underage is Misuse of a Driver’s License for the Purpose of Obtaining Alcohol.  Similar to the initial Misuse of a Driver’s License, this crime would include a small fine and no jail time.  The offender’s license, however, could be suspended for up to 7 months.

A University of Iowa freshman, who also chose to remain anonymous, said he uses his older brother’s old ID.

“I look just like him and the bouncers in Iowa City don’t know it’s not me,” said the freshman.  “A lot of my friends do the same thing.”

In fact, most of the freshman I talked to either didn’t have a fake ID or used someone’s ID who they knew.

“It’s convenient,” said one student.  “I don’t have to spend any money [on a fake ID] and I haven’t gotten into trouble yet.”

Producing Fake IDs

While many people do opt for using a friend or family member’s IDs, others still pay a small fee for a fake one.

The UI student who sells IDs also produces them.  He said people give him $60 before he takes their pictures.  Then the customers sign their autograph on a piece of paper.  Next, they put the picture and signature into a computer program.  On that platform, they match the graphics and holograms from an actual state ID.  After this process is complete, they send the information to a company who prints it off and sends it back. Two weeks later, they have their fake IDs.

“It is a fairly simple process and has gotten a lot easier over the years,” said the UI student.

Other people who sell fake IDs may do it differently, but according to the student, this is the most modern method.

The anonymous student said he didn’t think the upcoming vote on the 21 ordinance would greatly affect the sale of fake IDs.

“It will never stop.  People will always use fake IDs no matter what happens with the 21 ordinance.”

For more information visit Fake ID Q&A with UI Student, Iowa City Bar Crawls, or go back to the package’s main page.

Quran Burning

A pastor of a Florida Church plans to burn Qurans on September 11 on the anniversary of the 9/11/01 attacks.  Officials in opposition believe this could create a backlash on the U.S. military overseas.

My first source would be Professor Ahmed Souaiaia who teaches “Intro to Islam”.  He would know information on previous instances involving negative gestures toward Islam beliefs.  I found him using ICON and the online directory at the University of Iowa website.

My second source would be Sister Seniha Kraina.  She is a member of the Iowa City Mosque.  I could ask her about how she believes people will react to the Quran burnings this weekend.  I found her using the Iowa City Mosque Facebook page which also connected to their website.