Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Admin, underage differ on fake IDs

Published: March 23, 2012
Section: Front Page, News

In an area where one-fourth of the population is under the age of 21, Boston and surrounding cities are in a constant struggle with the overwhelming amount of underage college students using fake identification as a means to obtain alcohol. 

A recent study found that about 20 percent of all underage college students’ use or own fake identification of some form. Whether or not this is the percentage at Brandeis University, using fake identification is not uncommon. Students interviewed mentioned knowing at least one person at Brandeis who had attained false identification and often had experiences with it him or herself. Still, views on the issue often differed. All students interviewed chose to represent themselves anonymously in order to separate from the issue publicly even if he or she did not personally obtain any form of false identification.

Opinions on the use of false identification vary among the students and faculty of Brandeis University. Generally, faculty worry about the safety, while the students fret about the consequences of being caught. There is also debate among each concerning the laws pertaining to false identification and the moral responsibility held by the students who obtain it.

“I think what a lot of students don’t understand is that it’s actually more serious than people think,” Dean of Student Life Rick Sawyer said.

Sawyer says that the use of false identification to obtain alcohol affects more than just the students themselves––it affects the individuals selling the alcohol. Under Massachusetts State Law, any individual who sells alcohol and receives a form of false identification must report it to the local police. The consequences of not doing so would make the individual civilly responsible for any crime committed by the minor who bought the alcohol.

Others believe that it is not the students who are in the wrong, but the law. Many students find the law to be unreasonable for someone who is considered an adult.

“I disagree with the drinking age in the United States,” mentioned one student who enjoys the perks of false identification. “If you’re allowed to vote, you should be able to drink.”

The student also mentioned how it is not common in European countries to have false identification since the drinking age is lower than that of the United States.

“Laws are in place for a reason,” one first-year said. “The use of alcohol needs to be used responsibly.”

In the state of Massachusetts, it is a felony to be convicted of obtaining false identification. The possible outcomes of this felony are imprisonment for up to three months, a fine of $200 and a license suspension of one year.

According to Sawyer, Waltham Police trust Brandeis administrators to take false identification seriously and often let them to deal with this form of student misconduct through the university. If the situation is that of a first offense and depending on the student’s attitude, the student could be let off with a warning. Occasionally students are also summoned to court.

“Students may feel otherwise, but my perception of how the police and the city reacts to our students breaking rules and laws and policies is fair,” says Sawyer.