Coming from Madison, Wis., to go to school in Minnesota meant a lot of adjustments. For instance, saying “pop” instead of “soda” and referring to the childhood game duck duck goose as duck duck grey duck.
However, what surprised me the most was learning that there wasn’t a bar on campus at St. Thomas. And while alcohol sales shouldn’t be the definition of an accredited university, it does give students a safe and responsible option for drinking with their friends while bringing life and activity to campus.
Since the first day that the Anderson Student Center opened its doors, I noticed room for improvement. Let me clarify, it is a beautiful facility and I am grateful for it, however, I think that there could have been more done in order to accommodate and welcome students in the space.
A recent article written about The Loft in the ASC really sparked my interest. It highlighted how the juice-bar has not yet made a profit or broken even in their sales since its opening in January. It seemed as though a transformation was in order. If The Loft transformed into a bar, I guarantee it would create revenue and drive students to campus.
First, the school needs a motivating factor in order to even consider putting a bar on campus, and money is a good motivator. If The Loft has failed to make a profit due to pricey drinks and three flights of stairs, something needs to be done in order for the school to keep it afloat and competitive with the other campus food outlets.
A bar would be the perfect solution to this problem. The Loft would be the only place on-campus to be able to purchase alcoholic drinks, giving it a competitive edge and a reason to drive students up to the third floor, acting as a motivator for the school and students. The school needs to make sales and students want to grab a brewski on-campus. It’s a win-win.
Second, a bar would drive a targeted group of students to campus. Many upperclassmen over 21 often neglect the student services available to them on campus. Many of the activities offered to students seem juvenile, even to those under 21. Double dutch tournaments and screenings of The Muppets Movie don’t sound all that enticing to many over the ages of 13. So, many either go home on the weekend or to the bar, leaving little life at St. Thomas. By adding a bar to campus, the university would begin to steer away from the suitcase college stereotype by allowing a place on campus for students to kick back and relax with their peers.
Alumni would also take advantage of a campus bar. Not only would it be a place for them to hang out while they’re visiting, but it would create memories for current students and serve as a walk down memory lane when they come back to visit their alma mater with friends and family.
Another benefit to having a bar on campus would be that it would improve student relations with Public Safety officers. It isn’t news that the university has a no-tolerance policy when it comes to underaged drinking, and many students take that out on the officers. By having a bar on campus, students would be able to observe Public Safety regulating student drinking in a comfortable and friendly environment.
The bar would also create different job opportunities for students. I know a couple of people who have bartending licenses and aren’t employed in the field due to a lack of experience or a lack of transportation. The on-campus bar would provide a safe and accessible way for bartenders to learn the tricks of the trade and get the experience they need to potentially continue in that field after graduation if the job market is still in a lull.
There is also the argument that other Catholic universities in Minnesota, like St. John’s and St. Mary’s, have on-campus bars, so why can’t we? Vice President of Student Affairs Jane Canney said location plays a huge role in that decision making process. St. John’s and St. Mary’s both are situated in small towns, whereas St. Thomas is in the heart of a metropolitan area, offering many more opportunities for nightlife.
Although there doesn’t seem to be a huge push for an on-campus bar at the moment, the university does sound open and receptive to ideas.
“I’m always open to talking about new possibilities,” Canney said. “I’ve been in student affairs work for several years and have worked on campuses, none of them have had bars. But, I’m always open to look at that, but I think there’s more to student life than alcohol.”
Olivia Cronin can be reached at email@example.com.