Security a hindrance for some, a necessity for others

He’s struggling not to stand out as he unwraps his third stick of gum and feels the penetrating glare of local authorities from across the room as he hands the bouncer his ticket. Will he spend the night in prison? The security at Higher Ground has a tremendous influence on UVM’s music loving community and has received harsh patron and student media attention alike, but is this all legitimate? The WaterTower featured a story on March 25 claiming, “Straight up, the people who work at Higher Ground are grade-A assholes.” The supporting attribution includes Higher Ground security asking Sophomore Allen Roth to step outside and “sober up” before he was admitted entry. Although there are many more extreme stories than that of Allen Roth, there appears to be a small contrast between The WaterTower’s claim and their attribution. Most students, according to sophomore Hank Black, aren’t as worried about security as they are with cops. “Security can’t do shit but kick you out, but the cops will throw you in the drunk tank for the night,” he said. Black illustrates his claim with a tale of a freshman companion who was allowed entry by security but apprehended “violently” by police before making it to the venue doors. The student, who refused to provide a breath sample or identification, was taken to the Chittenden County Correctional Center or as Black called it, “full blown prison.” According to Black, the sleepless night included incarceration with “next level tweakers and hardened criminals.” So who invited the fuzz? Our elected officials. According to owner Kevin Statesir under state law the venue has to answer to the Liquor Control Bureau, “any Vermont Law enforcement within jurisdiction” and the Labor and Industry Bureau regarding who gets in and who doesn’t. He said, “under state law any law enforcement officer can come into our building at anytime,” no warrant necessary. Which leads to the next law that anyone found intoxicated and underage by said officer, regardless of where they claim the alcohol was consumed, results in legal repercussions for the venue. These repercussions range from large fines to suspension or revocation of entertainment and liquor licenses, according to Statesir. The management stresses that it is far easier for security and police alike to determine someone who has been drinking alcohol than other things like smoking marijuana. In slight contrast, sophomore Jim LaFreniere reports his friend being politely asked to leave the Disco Biscuits show April 2 by security as a result of pupil dilation. LaFreniere said that his friend was “cheesin’ balls” referencing a possible consumption of MDMA or “molly” and sporting an ear-to-ear grin. Although police were present, the student complied and left before police were involved, according to LaFreniere. “If you go there and look too fucked up you might not get in,” said sophomore Eamonn Kress. “I think they are pretty chill otherwise,” summarizing the like-it-or-not bottom line at Higher Ground. Statesir also stressed that he is aware that the demeanor of his security guards is the only patron complaint that he can legally address. He said back in the day he was taken out back and beaten up by various venues’ security and understands what it’s like to be treated wrongly. Statesir said that if anyone feels they are mistreated at Higher Ground, they are encouraged to contact him and that he deals with every individual complaint personally.