Party for U18s at LCA 2009


This year at Linux.Conf.Au there was a student party sponsored by Google. The party was held in a bar and lots of free drinks were provided. This was fine for the university students, but for school kids it was obviously lacking.

Some people point out that it’s “quite legal” to run a party that excludes children, the point however is whether it’s desirable to exclude them. Also the concept of a state where laws dictate all aspects of your life to a degree such that obeying the law is the only possibility is fortunately restricted to science fiction.

Another common fallacy is when people point out that we should be grateful for Google’s sponsorship. As far as I am aware Google doesn’t insist on any particular conditions for sponsoring a party. If the conference organisers were to request a party at a more child-friendly venue (for example a restaurant – which if licensed could serve alcohol to adults who desire it) then I doubt that Google would refuse. Being grateful for Google’s sponsorship is entirely unrelated to the issue of whether their sponsorship money was spent in the best possible manner.

My interest in this topic started at LCA 2007 when I heard complaints from young delegates who were excluded from the Google party. This year the Google party (a different event from the “Google student party”) allowed everyone to attend and issued coloured wrist-bands to indicate whether the person had shown suitable ID to be served alcohol. The Google party was inviting for all and I believe that it was a significant improvement over last year (more attention was paid to serving food than alcohol). I have suggested that at future events some tables be reserved for people who aren’t drinking. As a general rule people enjoy being around people who have consumed a similar type and quantity of mind-altering substances (something I learned from my friends in Amsterdam).

There is of course demand for serious drinking, and it seems impossible to satisfy people who want to do serious drinking at the same party as people who won’t or can’t drink at all.

If there is not going to be an official party that is suitable for U18s then I’ll arrange it and pay for it myself. The consensus of opinion seems to be that less than six U18s are not worth catering for (one of the common objections to my suggestions is that there may be only four or five U18s). I can pay for a party for that many people which (in terms of food and non-alcoholic drinks) compares well with whatever Google might offer for the drinkers.

The rough idea is that U18s will have free food and non-alcoholic drinks. The venue will be some suitable restaurant (is there a Pizza hut or similar near the next LCA?). The party will be open to parents and delegates who are >18 and don’t plan to drink (but I’m sorry I can’t afford to shout you). Opportunities to learn about cool Linux stuff will abound (I expect that a number of knowledgable Linux people who can teach some interesting things will be interested in attending).

If I’m paying then children who aren’t delegates will also be welcome to attend, but their parents would have to pay for their food/drink. But this is merely a matter of budget, if it was to be an official event or there were other sponsors then this might not be the case.

What I would like right now is expressions of interest from young people who plan to attend the conference and from parents (who plan to attend the conference or whose children will attend). If it looks like there will be a suitably large number of people interested in this then the conference organisers may decide to make it an official event.

Also comments from adults who would prefer an alcohol free event (whether it be due to medical reasons, religion, or choice) would be of interest. It’s all about the number of people who will attend.

9 thoughts on “Party for U18s at LCA 2009”

  1. I’m 18 and I don’t drink, but I do not have a problem being at a party where alcohol is served, nor did I have any problems with it when I was under 18 (and as my friends are almost all older than me, I went to quite a few). On the other hand, I don’t have a problem with alcohol-free events either.

    Victoria’s liquor laws regarding minors are at, and indicate that they need to be accompanied by a responsible adult (unless the bar is a licensed restaurant, which I assume it was not). A responsible adult is not necessarily a parent/guardian; had an overage delegate volunteered to act as said responsible adult, underage delegates there without their parents would legally have been allowed to enter. So the Student Party this year didn’t necessarily “exclude children”, as you claim.

  2. Adam Ashley says:

    Actually I know for a fact there was more than one U18 at the Google Student Party and they had a good time.

  3. Jeremy says:

    Cool, if you put one on, I’ll be there. (Even though I’ll be 18 at the time, I’d be wanting to support an alcohol-free party.)

  4. Jeremy says:

    Yeah, Adam, I’m U18, and I was at that party and I had a good time. I only need caffeine to get me on the high. :) I have no intention of starting on alcohol, as Coke tastes so good already… *burp*

    I’m still wondering why the sink in the bathroom at that party had bars covering it. Was it so you can’t drown people accidentally while drunk or something?

  5. etbe says:

    Quynh-Chi: Making them feel unwelcome such that they feel inclined to leave (or not attend) counts as exclusion IMHO. Do you have a reference for the definition of a “responsible adult”?

    Adam: Were they drinking alcohol?

  6. Jeremy says:

    Yes, the student party had alcohol (obviously not served to U18s).

  7. etbe: This site for an RSA refresher course indicates that the definition of a “responsible adult” is

    A person who is over 18 years of age and who is:
    a) the younger person’s parent, step-parent, guardian or grandparent; or
    b) the younger person’s spouse; or
    c) a person who is acting in place of a parent and who could reasonably be expected to exercise responsible supervision of the younger person.

  8. etbe says:

    Quynh-Chi: I find it difficult to believe that a random delegate could be considered to be “acting in place of a parent”. It seems likely that if there were U18s at that party and condition “a” wasn’t filled then the legal conditions were not met.

  9. etbe: If an U18 was attending the conference without a parent/guardian, then one would assume the parent thought the U18 was responsible enough to handle themselves in this situation, and (c) could be met for legal purposes. Otherwise, perhaps contact could be made with the parent once a willing adult was found to meet “c” (phone call, email, whatever) and they could give their permission.

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