Discourse / Editorials / April 27, 2011

Thoughts from the Embers: Watering holes

At last week’s Senior Meeting at GP’s Lounge, 17 Knox students under the age of 21 were issued tickets for being in a bar as minors. While it may not have been the brightest idea for 17 underage students to show up on a night when a bar would be packed for Senior Meeting (a weekly event for which senior class officers choose a bar downtown at which students 21 and over drink), there are ways that a large bust like this could have been prevented.

Obviously, it would involve preventing underage students from following their of-age friends to bars. There are potentially many ways to do this, but one of them is something the administration probably doesn’t want to hear: sell alcohol on campus to those who are of-age.

In the past, it has seemed like selling liquor on campus to of-age students is a topic that has been completely off the table. But why should it be? The college knows that drinking on campus happens anyway. It happens not only in the out-of-sight places like dorm rooms, but at events, too.

Instead of denying that this happens (which, admittedly, is not something that all administrators do), perhaps the administration should see it as a lucrative opportunity. If there would be a way to sell alcohol during the week in an already-established campus hub, such as the Taylor Student Lounge, it would provide a space where students could enjoy a drink without having to leave their underage friends behind to go to a bar. Other small liberal arts colleges, including fellow Loren Pope-approved life-changer Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, run campus bars with significant success, both financially and socially.

The administration should see this suggestion as a positive way to make some money, which, let’s face it, the college still very much needs. For those who say that students won’t spend money on a drink at a campus bar, think of the money students spend at The Beanhive coffee shop each week. The cost of a cappuccino is comparable to that of a beer. Further, we could explore the possibility of being able to purchase drinks, given that the student are 21, with Dining Dollars or Flex Dollars. After all, anything purchased with a Knox student I.D. seems to many people as something purchased with “fake money.”

While there is certainly an argument against creating further reasons for students not to venture off campus and thus increasing the town-gown gap between Galesburg and Knox, those who are 21 will still be able to go to bars when they want. But it would be less alienating to Knox minors if their friends who wanted to drink didn’t have to leave them to go to a bar.

If the administration is prepared to say that it would tarnish Knox’s image if we start serving alcohol, isn’t it more hurtful to our image to have 17 minors ticketed at Senior Meeting, a school-sanctioned event? If the administration is more concerned about combating underage drinking, what better way to do it while protecting Knox’s image than to sell alcohol in a safe and controlled environment? This is not to say that public bars are not safe places, but that students might feel more comfortable being able to drink on campus with their friends instead of venturing (not very far) to a bar where they might not know people or might not feel as comfortable getting themselves home.

Annie Zak

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