Yes, it would promote safe drinking behavior
DESTINY PINDER BUCKLEY
The days of a dry campus are over, although they never fully existed at all. Students of all ages hoard alcohol in the dorms whether they are 21 or not. Augustana has also been more progressive with alcohol policies, including a beer garden at the homecoming football game, allowing The Mirror to publish ads with alcohol content and permitting theme houses and the apartments to have alcohol if 51% of the residents are 21. Making better use of part of the Back Alley for an on-campus bar is not a ludicrous idea.
Having an on-campus bar would enable Augustana to promote safer drinking behaviors. According to AlcoholRehabGuide.org, four out of every five college students drink alcohol to some degree, with half of those including binge drinking. Consuming large amounts of alcohol can increase a student’s chance of developing an alcohol use disorder. Additionally, college alcohol consumption can decrease class performance and increase the risk of injury. While Augie does require incoming students to complete an online course on alcohol use before arriving on-campus, staring at a computer screen does not have the same educational effect as real-life participation.
The Amethyst Movement started in 2008 to reconsider lowering the national drinking age. A Mental Floss article states that many college presidents support the movement because colleges would be more likely to bring booze on-campus and educate students on responsible drinking habits. Legal-age drinking culture at bars is a different world than underage drinking in dorm rooms and house parties, and having an on-campus bar to aid the transition would be beneficial. At the same time, the number of older students enrolling in colleges is increasing, meaning there is a higher percentage of enrolled college students who are of legal age to drink.
A Back Alley bar would also generate money for Augustana, leading to less tuition costs or department funding cuts. (Maybe even start a rival for The Crow?) Furthermore, it’d be a great alumni hangout to catch up with old professors or be goaded into donating large sums of money. It could be an extra draw to get older students to attend UBG or other Back Alley events on Friday evenings. And just imagine relaxing with a nice pint of beer or glass of wine after a stressful test or presentation without having to travel far. The location would be perfect for older students to grab a drink and catch up with one another after busy weeks of deadlines and studying.
Several studies have shown benefits to consuming wine and beer in moderation. Key word: moderation. According to a 2016 U.S. News article, drinking a small beer a day is linked to ingesting nutrients (as beer is mostly water), reducing risk of Type 2 diabetes, boosting cognitive/psychological health and aiding bone health.
Overall, the main setback to opening an on-campus bar is that first-year students wouldn’t be able to use it, who are arguably the group who need a safe and responsible environment the most. However, the benefits of using the space to cater to the older students and help them transition into better booze behaviors outweigh the negatives.
No, we need consistent alcohol policies
If Augustana was to add a bar to the Back Alley, it would be another step in a long line of the university thinking it does not have to follow its own rules. Augustana is a dry campus, in case anyone was unaware—which would be surprising considering how big of a deal the university makes it.
The alcohol policy includes points such as “The possession of alcoholic beverage containers, either full or empty, is taken as a presumption of use and possession and is considered a policy violation,” and the obvious “Intoxication and other alcohol-related behavior is not condoned.” While the policy could, and some might say should, be reconsidered, as it stands, alcohol is not supposed to be allowed on campus.
Despite that fact, there are examples of Augustana acting above its own rules. During the homecoming football game last semester, there was a beer garden at the stadium. To be fair, the event turned out fine and people seemed to enjoy the alcohol. Regardless of how it turned out, it just shows that Augustana can pick and choose when it wants to enforce the rules. That is a dangerous mindset for an institution to hold.
Another example that is more relatable to the student body can be seen every weekend. Walk through the dorms and you’ll find countless people openly partying. Students walk through the halls with red Solo cups in hand—no one is oblivious to what that entails. All the while, the university does nothing to enforce its rules against this.
I’m not saying that I’m against partying. I think people are going to party no matter what the university policy says. I’m just saying that it’s hypocritical for Augustana to openly disregard one of their rules while obeying all of the others.
Focusing back on the potential new bar, it would be the most obvious case yet of Augustana acting above its own rules. With a bar on campus, Augustana’s enforcement of being an alcohol-free school would be a joke. How would it look to the student body if the university decided it gets to break its own rules without any consequence?
As I mentioned earlier, there has been a push to get Augustana to reconsider its complete prohibition of alcohol. In a recent ASA meeting, President Luca Amayo mentioned that he wanted to see the university reevaluate the current rules.
I think taking a look at the policy and considering changes could be very beneficial. It would allow the university to clarify its stance on the subject of alcohol, and more importantly, it would allow the university to hold itself accountable for past disregard of the policy.
As it stands now, however, Augustana is still acting as if it’s above the law. A bar on campus would be a clear violation of the alcohol policy. That violation is a serious issue, as it gives the impression that the university can freely choose when to ignore the rules and when to enforce them.