Administrators say on-campus tavern not a likely option

On a typical weekday, The University Pub sees a handful of students. On the weekends, starting Thursday night, bartender Raoul Herrera said it can be a different story.

The bar can become so crowded that there have to be doormen at both ends of the building. Many of its clientele are TCU students, Herrera said.

Meanwhile, on campus on a typical weeknight, the Peer Discipline Board, a group of student volunteers, hear about two or three cases from students appealing alcohol violations.

Audrey Burkhart, a freshman musical theater major and a board member, said the cases can range from students having alcohol in their rooms to being in a car on a TCU parking lot where alcohol is being consumed. Most of the cases take place in the dorms.

That is why Burkhart said she doubts having an on-campus pub, like the one recommended by a task force at neighboring Southern Methodist University would go over well with TCU students.

“Nobody would feel comfortable,” Burkhart said. “They might feel like they are being monitored.” The on-campus pub for students was among 30 recommendations by an SMU task force created as a response to drug and alcohol problems, said Patti LaSalle, SMU associate vice president for public affairs.

Made of students, faculty, staff and one trustee, the task force made the recommendations and gave it to SMU President R. Gerald Turner, LaSalle said. Other recommendations included more Friday classes and amnesty for students who seek medical help for their friends, but the on-campus pub has received the most attention.

LaSalle said an on-campus pub would provide a controlled, monitored environment for student activities.

“It’s a place to keep them safer while giving them a place where they can exercise responsible behavior,” LaSalle said.

Don Mills, vice chancellor for student affairs, said a pub would be highly unlikely on the TCU campus anytime soon.

“When two-thirds of our students are underage, opening a pub on campus would be irresponsible,” Mills said.

Mills said the real challenge for TCU is to find students that drink abusively and respond to their risk.

According to the TCU Fact Book, the average annual number of on-campus liquor law violations from 2004 to 2006 was 349.

“In all honesty, I think this is an area where all colleges are struggling, including TCU,” Mills said.

LaSalle said other colleges around the nation have on-campus pubs, including nearby Austin College in Sherman and Rice University in Houston.

LaSalle said on-campus areas that serve alcohol are not unusual, and the administration would determine whether it was right for SMU.

Student Government Association president Thomas Pressly agreed with Mills that it did not make sense to have a pub on campus because so many students were not of drinking age. He said if students really wanted to make a difference, they should let the politicians they vote for know they want the drinking age to be lowered back to 18.

SGA vice president Brett Major said nation-wide trends in binge drinking and drunken driving were decreasing, but things can always get better.

“We can keep the trend going in the right direction,” Major said.

Major said SGA has been working to create a “Safe Rides” program at TCU to reduce drunken driving. SGA, along with the administration, is considering options such as a shuttle downtown or circulating campus or a private taxi service licensed by the school, Major said, but the program still required many logistical considerations and may therefore be years away.

While at SMU, LaSalle said Turner assigned each of the recommendations to the vice president in charge of determining the respective considerations. For example, the vice president of business and finance will decide how the pub will be paid for. The vice presidents will give their report to Turner on April 15, who will make the final decision regarding which recommendations will be approved at the end of the semester.

Pressly said it was important for TCU to ultimately make decisions based on its own needs.

“What’s right for SMU in not necessarily what’s right at TCU,” Pressly said. “I think TCU would have to do its own study to find out what’s right for our campus and our school.”

Check out campus pubs in the U.S.