Open a pub on campus

UAA often struggles to create a sense of campus culture. For most students, there usually isn’t a good reason to stay late on campus unless it’s for studying. We have plenty of great coffee establishments for the mornings, but few options for the nights. Even dining is limited to a paltry two businesses in the Student Union.

There is a pretty easy fix to this. UAA is effectively a dry campus at the moment, but it doesn’t have to be. The administration could allow for a bar on campus. Such a thing would not be unprecedented. In fact, UAF has hosted a successful pub since 1975. The beer and wine establishment hosts events, rents space and contributes to a campus culture that further enriches the experience of students there.  UAA could have the same experience by selecting a venue and leasing it to a local bar or entrepreneur. Not only would this increase campus immersion, but it would provide a viable late-night food and drink choice for students.

The objectives and parameters for a campus pub would need to be outlined first. That is why this process should begin at USUAA. Three topics should be addressed: what the establishment would be allowed to sell, how it can be financially sustainable and how to maintain a healthy environment in the pub for students and employees. All of this should be drafted as a USUAA resolution before being proposed to the appropriate administrative bodies.

The first topic is fairly straightforward. The UAF model of selling only beer and wine appears to be safe and satisfactory. The absence of hard liquor decreases the chance of ever having to call the University Police Department, which is something this new pub should obviously seek to avoid. Basic food items should be accessible depending on which venue the university approved for a bar. The Student Union Den appears to be the best choice given that it already has a miniature kitchen.

The next question is how we can make this pub as financially sustainable as the 44-year-old UAF pub. If this establishment springs up and then goes out of business within a couple of semesters, then the UAA administration will probably never consider allowing this endeavor again. At the same time, we should seek to distance the turbulent university budget from the bar as much as possible. This means that USUAA and the administration should carefully screen each applicant for their financial worthiness. It also means that the lease agreed upon between the bar and the university should be reasonably low.

This venture is not intended to create new revenue for the university. Rather, the objective is only to create an immersive, sustainable alternative for late-night students. The pub will need to maintain a low cost of doing business, so utilities ought to be covered by the university, as would normally happen if the pub was never leased. Student workers are a great option for low-cost, tips-based labor as well.

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Finally, no establishment is welcome at UAA unless it is serious about maintaining a healthy environment. These are stipulations that USUAA should write clearly into a resolution concerning this bar. Employees at the bar should be familiar with UAA’s Title IX training and associated bystander training. The campus pub should also exercise the right to refuse service if a patron is drinking excessively or acting with unruly behavior. The only type of bar that UAA students will endorse on campus is one that meets our expectations for safety and respect.

When all topics are answered for, UAA will be ready to reap the benefits of a campus pub. An environment where students can safely consume alcohol while bonding with classmates is one where the overall academic purpose of the university is served. Late-night social gatherings alleviate stress and create opportunity for intellectual exercises like pub trivia. A campus pub also decreases the incentive for on-campus students to drive elsewhere in Anchorage, should they wish to drink. Consequently, that decreases the risk of driving while intoxicated for those students.

At the very least, creating a late-night option for students is a good justification in its own right. Students deserve to have a university tailored to their interests, and the campus culture is improved when there’s a fun environment to congregate and host activities. A campus pub has all the right ramifications for UAA. It is time to make it happen.