November 17, 2010

Report: Campus Needs a Pub

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Members of the Student Assembly are pushing for a pub on Cornell’s campus that would be open to anyone with a Cornell ID seven days a week — until 11 p.m. weekdays and 3 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.  The Late Night Programming ad hoc committee will present its report — which comes as a response to concerns about an apparent lack of late-night programming on campus — to the Student Assembly on Thursday. The report says that a pub would create a safe, controlled, late-night environment where student organizations could collaborate to put on events, including comedy shows and musical performances, for students. The committee calls for a liquor license to serve alcohol to those over the age of 21 to attract members of all classes to the location. Student Assembly President Vincent Andrews ’11, who introduced the resolution calling for the creation of the Late Night Programming committee, said he is hopeful that the administration will be responsive to the proposal, especially in the wake of the Greek changes. He said that the administration is beginning to recognize the lack of social activity outside the Greek system as a problem.“The time to do it is now,” Andrews said. “Because of the changes to the Greek recognition policy, the administration has recognized that there is a gap in late night programming. The stars are aligned.” Historically, Cornell students were able to buy alcohol in a variety of on-campus venues, including Noyes Community Center and Willard Straight Hall. Bear Necessities, in Robert Purcell Community Center, was once The Thirsty Bear Tavern. But the alcohol stopped flowing shortly after the drinking age increased to 21 in 1985. Susan Murphy ’73, vice president for student and academic services, said she remembers her time at Cornell — when the pubs on campus were open and beer was available. However, she said she has concerns about opening a pub on campus when more than half of the students are underage. “Back when the drinking age was 18 we had behavior problems,” she said. “Having been here when we had pubs before, I’m not sure if I’m eager to go down that path.”  However, she said she was pleased that the S.A. is assessing the availability of late-night programming on campus in response to the changes to open fraternity parties. “I think it’s fair to say the Greek community bears a undue burden for social events,” Murphy said. “If we’re constraining their ability to [have open parties], administrators and students need to work together to make sure there’s a vibrant scene on campus. You don’t want the V.P. and Dean of Students, who graduated long before you were born, to set the social scene,” she added.Currently, alcohol may be purchased at Helen Newman Lanes, the Big Red Barn and the Statler Hotel. But the S.A. committee is hoping to find a location that is convenient and appeals to undergraduates.The report examines the feasibility of converting several possible locations into a space for a pub. Among the options listed are the ceramics studio in Willard Straight Hall, Hughes Dining in the Law School and the One World Café in Anabel Taylor Hall.One of the spaces, Hughes Dining was reviewed favorably by the committee for its capacity, dramatic gorge overlook and location close to Collegetown, which could attract upperclassmen.Heena Ali and Jocelyn Hackett, both second year law students, frequently eat at Hughes between classes and studying. Hughes dining is currently used primarily by law students, they said, and thick law textbooks often sit on many of the tables. They said that a pub in the law school might draw them for a drink on a Friday afternoon.“Making it a pub would be a huge improvement over what it is now,” Ali said. “Any time you can get alcohol in the law school is a plus.”The only “con” listed for the space in the committee’s report was its proximity to study spaces and the potential disruption to students. Hughes is separated from student carrels by only by a set of doors. Hackett said she feared for students’ lives if they walked through the doors to the study area from the pub.“If they walked through the study space, they’d get murdered. People might storm out of their carrels and be law school trolls,” she said.Each site has its challenges, according to the committee, but members hope that they will find a space that meets criteria including size, accessibility and the availability of bathrooms. Additionally, the report calls for a raised stage for performances, sound systems for music, and televisions for sporting events. It suggests Cornell Dining and student groups collaborate to operate the pub.At Harvard University, the Cambridge Queen’s Head is owned by the university and operated by students. Adam Nicoletti ’12, a member of the S.A. and the S.A.’s ad hoc committee said that the pub, which opened in 2004, is a “mirror image” of the proposal that the committee put together. Josh Woodruff, Harvard ’11, one of the student managers of the Queen’s Head, said that the pub appeals to a variety of students, and he has never had an issue filling the pub throughout the week. “I think it has something for everyone,” he said. “If you’re a freshman, it’s a place to hang out with your peers and get some food. If you’re a sophomore, it’s a place to see your pals and shoot a rack of pool and, if you’re a senior, it’s a place to get the full experience.” Though he said it was a liability for Harvard to own a pub, he cited a record of safe operation. Staff members check Harvard IDs, which have birth dates, and corroborate them with state-issued ID’s. Staff is also is trained to recognize and assist patrons who have had too much to drink, he said. Andrew Kagaen ’13 expressed excitement about the idea at Cornell. However, he said that a pub would have to be well-executed in order for it to be successful. “[It’s success] would depend entirely on how it was implemented,” he said. “If it wasn’t done well, it wouldn’t work.”Cameron Breen ’12, chair of the Cornell University Programing Board and a member of the ad hoc committee, was also excited about the idea. Although the CUPB has only worked with bigger venues like Bailey Hall in the past, the organization will work to collaborate with other byline funded student groups to book the space for performers, Breen said. “This is still in planning stages,” he said. “We’re reaching out to campus administrators and student groups. Everyone involved, including myself is excited about the prospect of this new venue.”

Original Author: Juan Forrer