Naples’ lawful dry-out raises questions

This Tuesday, the state Liquor Control Commission struck a decisive blow in its ongoing crackdown against Naples Pizza and Restaurant. For the first 75 days of the spring semester, the welcoming Wall Street watering hole will be dry, and after that, ironclad regulations will likely keep those under 21 away from Naples for the foreseeable future.

We all knew that Naples was breaking the law by selling alcohol to minors, and we all knew that we were breaking the law at the same time. Naples was an extraordinary paradise, a relic of a time long past in which we reveled without disturbance. It was the home of legends, of hazy Thursday night memories, of a generation of initials immortalized in pine.

We had a tacit agreement to preserve this utopia, but we flaunted our privileges to our pre-frosh and the residents of New Haven. We danced drunken on tables and printed stories about it in our publications; Naples made money and kept its policies lax.

Tuesday, we all paid the price. Now that our justice system has spoken, the pertinent question is not whether the punishment was warranted — it certainly was, as Naples received multiple warnings and continued to break the law — but rather, what we will things be like now?

Despite its blatant disregard for the drinking age, Naples’ nonexistent carding policies made underage drinking a less dangerous activity. Because the restaurant served almost exclusively beer and stayed open till 2:00 a.m. on weekend nights, freshmen had an alternative to the hard-alcohol chugging rituals that result from stricter policies at similar schools.

Naples’ location also plays a key role in its vigilante protection of underage drinkers. The restaurant and all its neighboring properties are Yale-owned and sufficiently distant from privately owned residences. The restaurant’s proximity to Old Campus also ensures that Yale students do not have to travel far, or possibly drive, in order to act irresponsibly.

The simple fact is that students’ welfare is at odds with the law, and there are no easy ways to address the problem.

The state Liquor Control Commission has a duty to Connecticut citizens to uphold the law, and it must act to enforce it across the board evenly and comprehensively. Just as it was wrong for Naples to be one of the only restaurants in New Haven not to check identification, it is equally unfair for the state to subject Naples to regulations far beyond those that any other Elm City restaurant must uphold.

Furthermore, the commission has the responsibility of treating Yale students just as it treats other city residents — the commissioners summoned 10 Yale students to Tuesday’s hearings, but they neglected to bring any of the four non-Yale students whose names were also taken in raids — for overreacting against Naples can be seen as a clear lashing out at Yale.

It’s impossible to tell exactly what the future will hold for Naples or for Yale freshmen on Thursday nights, but we do know two things for sure.

Naples is never going to be the same, and we sure are going to miss the place.

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