“19 To Serve 19 to Enter”

Joe’s Brewery sign

The University of Illinois is the only campus to have an entry age of 19.

In Champaign-Urbana it is illegal to consume alcohol under the age of 21, however you are allowed to serve alcohol at the age of 19.The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is the only university in the country that also has a bar entry age of 19. It is important for the on campus bars to follow the rules of not serving anyone who is underage.

Joe’s Brewery manager Mike Snooks says he cards sometimes on the weekends and many times runs into an I.D that not the person who handed it to him.

“I do card at least once every weekend. I’ve taken at least one hundred I.Ds by now. It is not hard to tell when the I.D is not their based on their body language”, says Snooks.

Joe’s Brewery outside seating area

Sergeant Joe Ketchem of the Special Events-Alcohol Enforcement says having bar checks makes sure the bar owners are following the law and not violating rules by serving underage. The Champaign Police give out at least 400 to 600 tickets per year.

“The biggest days for bar checks are Reading Day, Mom’s Day, Dad’s Day, Homecoming, Unofficial and Welcome Week. Mom’s Day is coming up and we will be checking.” says Sgt. Ketchem.

Sgt. Ketchem also says that his biggest concern is the amount of binge drinking that occurs on Unofficial.

“The bar entry age is 21 on Unofficial because we had kids passed out on the floor and constantly transported, so we felt it was best to just keep the 19 and 20 year olds out of the bars during this weekend,” says Sgt. Ketchem

“I don’t ever see the bar entry age ever changing from 19. It has been this way for years and it is what the bars want.” -Sgt. Ketchem.

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St. Patrick’s Day artwork on the windows of Legends bar on Green St.


Another assignment in the books! The hardest part about each assignment is trying to figure out a topic that interests you. Usually we are given a few days to pick a topic, however, this assignment was different. Professor Collins gave us 24 hours to figure out a topic. I could not think of anything until the day of class, the 19 bar entry age.

Before transferring to the University of Illinois, I had never heard of a bar entry age of anything less than 21. I heard about drinking tickets, but did not think they were real until it happened to me. I was someone who did not go out often. I was someone who went out maybe once a week.  I wasn’t a big party animal. I just arrived at the Red Lion. Thirty minutes into being there, my friend handed me a drink and minutes later I felt a tap on my shoulder, it was an undercover cop.

Three hundred sixty dollars later, my ticket was paid, and the my sanction was to take an online course about my drinking habits and write a one page essay to the dean of students as to what I learned.  This was very frustrating to me. I thought to myself, “of course the one person that hardly goes out gets caught”. It was definitely a lesson learned.

I also didn’t understand why the bars were 21+ during Unofficial weekend. After talking with Sgt. Ketchem and hearing him explain what happened eight years ago, it all makes sense to just keep the bar entry age at 21 for that weekend. Me personally, the last two years I have decided it is best if I go home and enjoy a weekend with family. Now that I am 21, it is nice going to bars not having to worry about bar checks anymore.


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