While today the University strictly regulates on-campus alcohol consumption, Monmouth’s policies used to be quite different; the Rebecca Stafford Student Center (RSSC) was once home to Blue Hawk Pub, an on-campus bar that was eventually turned into a cafe and has since been removed altogether.
According to Mary Anne Nagy, Vice President for Student Life and Leadership Engagement, the bar was active over ten years ago when the drinking age was still 18. “As the laws changed both from a drink age and liability perspective, it became increasingly difficult to provide financial support for a facility that 70-plus percent of our students could not have access to,” she said.
Ultimately, the University decided to close the facility. “The pub could not sustain its operation on revenue derived from sales alone. The increased liability we assumed for operating a pub was also factored into the decision to close,” Nagy said.
Does this decision still make sense today, or should the University consider reopening the pub? The Outlook weighs in.
Firstly, the editors acknowledge that alcohol consumption can have serious consequences for college students. It is understood that the University’s “dry campus” policies are in place to ensure the safety of all students, as well as to cement Monmouth’s position as a respectable institution within the West Long Branch community. While The Outlook does not deny these policies, some editors feel that bringing a bar back to campus would yield positive results.
“A bar would be great for socializing, because all of the current options like the student center and library have an academic vibe to them, and people can never really relax,” one editor said. Many staff members agreed, and felt that a bar would increase school spirit and potentially encourage students to live on campus as upperclassmen. Some editors also believe that having a bar on campus would help to minimize drunk driving by providing a place that students could walk to and from.
Others editors felt that the administration made the right decision by pulling the bar from campus years ago, and that having a restaurant that served alcohol would be out of place in an academic environment.
“A bar would be very distracting and could have a negative influence on grades,” one editor commented. “I think it would be awkward to have a bar in the same place that I see professors and deans.” The Outlook also acknowledged that having a bar on campus could potentially facilitate underage drinking and have an overall negative effect on the University community.
When commentating on the original pub’s closing, Nagy said, “Given the fact that so many of our students are under the legal age to consume, any financial support that was being spent to operate the pub was re-allocated to our student activities area to sponsor additional social programs and experiences.”
If the University were to redirect its funds back into a bar, The Outlook discussed ways that it might help or hurt campus. Up for debate was whether or not regulated alcohol distribution on campus would decrease the amount of binge drinking that occurs in dorms each year. Some editors felt that a pub would result in social drinking as opposed to over-consumption, and that being in a public place would make students less likely to risk their limitations. Others noted that such easy access to alcohol on campus would only make matters worse.
Editors also discussed Monmouth’s large commuter population, and whether or not having a bar on campus would be enough incentive for students to participate in the dorming process.
“A lot of commuters live no more than two hours away,” one editor pointed out, “so I doubt they’d add to their living expenses by staying on campus [just for access to] a bar.”
Another editor said that “if it was a restaurant that [also] served liquor[…] both underage and 21-year-old-students could enjoy it.” This could potentially keep more students around campus on the weekends and change Monmouth’s reputation as a “suitcase school.”
While The Outlook couldn’t fully agree on this issue, many staffers were certain that a bar would be a welcome addition to the campus’ social scene.