On Sept. 12, the Bear’s Den, Cornell’s on-campus pub, opened with the aim of becoming a meeting place where those over 21 can enjoy a drink alongside their younger counterparts. First pitched two years ago, the initial proposal acknowledged the importance of programming to getting the pub off the ground. So far, however, there have been very few events since it opened. The pub has not attained the necessary level of visibility on campus to make it successful in the long term.
Students have a rare opportunity to create a novel “pub culture.” If done well, the pub can serve as a great venue for student groups to host fundraisers, concerts or comedy nights. It also holds the potential for programming specific to Cornell, such as invite your favorite professor to the Bear’s Den events. There is no shortage of ideas that could bring students to the pub. It is concerning, however, that very little has been attempted.
While events may help boost the pub’s visibility, its aesthetic is can also be improved. Right now, the bar is easy to miss altogether. The only additions to the space are a single beer tap and a new refrigerator to store bottles of beer. Making the presence of the pub more noticeable is essential to attracting patrons.
On a campus with 20,000 students, there are surely students both talented and capable enough to improve the design: a design that would both make the very large space more intimate and respect the existing history and architecture of the room.
Most importantly, we recognize that this is a worthwhile initiative, and acknowledge the many hours of hard work spent making it a reality. The Bear’s Den is not going to replace or compete with a Collegetown bar. It does, however, have the ability to fill a need in our community at the moment. Barred from fraternities, freshmen are left wandering into Collegetown without as many options as they once did.
The Bear’s Den offers a solution to a void, but will only be used if attractive. We acknowledge the pub is still in an early and developmental stage, but while the goals and vision are strong, a unique identity is needed.