Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Online dining guide draws fire for posts

Reviews suggesting underaged drinking hotspots on the Associated Student Government Online Restaurant Guide might be taken off the Web site after stinging criticism from Evanston aldermen earlier this week.

During debate over proposals to change liquor regulations at Monday’s Evanston City Council meeting, Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) referred to the guide as “an interesting road map on how to get sloppy drunk in Evanston.” She used the comments to highlight the city’s need to pass a law barring underage students from certain downtown bars after midnight.

In response to the observation, ASG Technology Director Michael Jurewitz said the student government is considering pulling such reviews.

The Web site, at http://restaurant.asg.northwestern.edu/ is hosted on ASG’s Web server. It displays eateries’ menus, phone numbers and hours of operation, dividing them into categories such as “bar” and “Mexican.” Most of the reviews discuss ambience, service, price and food quality. Other mentioned topics ranged from underaged drinking to “devious looking” high school students to “mob forces” at Cafe Hookah, formerly 726 Clark St.

At the Monday meeting Rainey quoted a review for Las Palmas, 817 University Place, submitted in September 2004.

“Serves margharitas (sic) to minors,” the comment said.

The Web site received very little oversight from the ASG Executive Board in the past, said Jurewitz, a Weinberg senior. David Wei, Weinberg ’03, and Candice Tse are in charge of managing and maintaining the Web site.

The ASG Executive Board members will look into establishing a system to keep track of posts at their meeting Wednesday.

The comments still appeared on the site as of Tuesday evening.

Tse, a Communication senior, said she and Wei seldom censor the Web site, unless someone calls in to complain about a review’s content.

“For the most part we don’t really monitor stuff like that,” she said. “It’s more profanity and people using the site to comment on something other than the restaurants. Since it’s such an informal Web site – student-run, -maintained, students posting – we don’t really have a formal policy.”

Wei, a medical student who also attended Northwestern for his undergraduate degree, founded the latest version of the guide to keep track of restaurants in Evanston and what they offer to NU students.

One post said the 1800 Club, 1800 Sherman Ave., maintains a “mysterious loyalty to NU students with fake IDs.” 1800 Club General Manager Tony Sheffler said it’s fine for people to express their opinions and dismissed the comments. He said the person who mentioned fake IDs probably failed to sneak into the bar with their own ID and decided to write the review as a sort of revenge.

As of Tuesday the site said three of the last 10 comments for the 1800 Club were posted between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. And other reviewers directly said they were drunk while posting. One review for the 1800 Club asked students to “drink responsibly.”

Weinberg freshmen Chris Trigg said he never used the guide. But he can’t see what the problem is.

“Everyone accepts the fact that students drink,” he said. “Where they’re getting information from is irrelevant.”

Censoring the Web site won’t do anything about underage drinking, Weinberg Junior Meg Bradley said. And although she said she never noticed any conversations about minors and alcohol on the site, Bradley said the guide is useful for researching legal food and drinks.

ASG’s Jurewitz said representatives only want to remove information that could assist illegal activities.

“We really don’t have a policeman mentality about the Web site,” he said. “It is supposed to be an open forum for students.”

Reach Elizabeth Gibson at [email protected].

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Online dining guide draws fire for posts