January 23, 2012

Inside the Bear’s Den

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We make an unlikely pair: Who would have suspected that two non-hotelies (one of us even under 21) would be the students working to open The Bear’s Den, Cornell’s newest campus pub? While we’re not quite Bonnie and Clyde, it may seem like an odd coupling. However, it is exactly these non-stereotypic roles that fit with the mission of the Bear’s Den. Located in the Ivy Room of Willard Straight Hall, The Bear’s Den is meant to be a place for socializing and learning. Many places around campus, West Campus especially, hold the title of “living and learning environment.” We hope that The Bear’s Den is capable of enjoying this “living and learning” moniker too.Living: Yes we all do it, and no this article in not meant to get philosophical. But especially this year our “living” environment has gone through many changes. Numerous students have complained that there is little to do on campus and that changes to the Greek system have migrated parties from West and North Campus to Collegetown and dorm rooms.The idea to bring a pub to campus began to be seriously considered because of a lack of late night options for undergraduates. Former Student Assembly President Vincent Andrews ’11 created the Late Night Programming Committee in order to bring together leaders from all major campus life organizations (Cornell Concert Commissions, Class Councils, WSH Student Union Board, The Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic just to name a few). As these groups pledged together to create a programming space where live bands, open mic nights, dances, formals and bingo were accessible to all students The Bear’s Den began to take shape.After meeting upon meeting with administrators, a campus pub began to seriously be considered. As President Skorton gave his final approval in the Fall, Cornell Dining (who owns and will operate the pub) began plans to apply for a liquor license. Because this application takes up to a year to acquire, this semester The Bear’s Den will be launching four “soft” openings. The first will be for the Superbowl on Feb. 5. If your team is playing, you are welcome to compete in the Bear’s Den’s biggest fan competition and participate in a free pool to win some awesome prizes. If your team isn’t competing or football isn’t really your game, don’t worry; The Bear’s Den will be hosting Super Bowl Commercial Bingo and a half time viewing. The Bear’s Den will be offering its full menu of food and beverages, including pizza, beer, wings and sandwiches, and all four of this semester’s demo events offer a taste of what is to come.  Yet The Bear’s Den is meant to be more than just the place to go to celebrate being done with your last final, it is meant to create a “learning” environment in which all those over and under 21 can interact without a keg overflowing in the background or someone throwing up in the upstairs bathroom. All too often we hear statistics about high risk drinking at Cornell and at universities around the country, we see a friend taken to the hospital or are impacted by a horrible alcohol related tragedy. While studies around the country are being done to see how to curb this behavior, one thing is for certain — abstinence-only policies do not work. It did not work in the Prohibition Era and it will not work now. The Bear’s Den is an attempt to prove that while alcohol may be present, it is not needed in excess or at all to have fun.While only those over 21 are allowed to drink (monitored by Cornell Police and Cornell Dining) everyone is welcome to the pub. Whether you want to hear an a cappella performance, play a night of trivia, dance your heart out to a student D.J. or just hang out for a bit after class, this is an idea started by students, implemented by students, named by students and run for students. What more could be asked for? We hope to share a beer with you in The Bear’s Den next semester, or in Rob’s case a Coke is just fine.

Rob Callahan is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences and Chair of the Pub Committee. He may be reached at rpc75@cornell.edu. Natalie Raps is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and President of The Student Assembly. She may be reached at nrr25@cornell.edu. Guest Room appears periodically this semester.

Original Author: Natalie Raps