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On-campus pub a possibility at University

April 23, 2009

Student Affairs and Academic Services (SAAS) has begun to work with the UW-River Falls Student Senate and administration on a plan that could potentially implement a pub on-campus.

Jordan Harshman, the College of Education and Professional Studies (COEPS) representative to Senate, said that, at first, he was not fond of the idea of building an on-campus pub.

“I initially thought it was the dumbest idea I’d ever heard,” he said in an e-mail interview. “College should be about personal responsibility and this is not how to demonstrate it—and don’t we have enough alcohol already?”

Harshman said he changed his mind after reading an article about Wisconsin campus pubs from Gregg Heinselman, the associate vice chancellor for student affairs.

“Reading that sent [me] on a complete 180 and now I’m totally for it,” he said.

The pub, which Harshman said would most likely be located in the 1874 Room of the University Center, would serve beer and mixed drinks, as well as food. He said it would be open to all UWRF students and faculty.

“I think we’re probably not going to be able to pull off [serving] other community members due to our noncompetitive clause, but [it’s] so early in the planning stages, we’ve got some room to work out [the] details,” Harshman said.

According to Harshman, SAAS has been working to gain student input for this idea. He said that even if the idea of an on-campus pub is placed on the spring ballot, there is still much more work to be done.

“I can only imagine what it would take to bring something like this to our campus; coordination with Dining Services, Health Services, Career Services, administration, [the] campus planner, Student Senate [and] campus police,” he said. “We’d need to address funding, construction of infrastructure, menus, advertisement, hours of operation [and] underage issues.”

Harshman noted that because SAAS wants to make a strong case based on solid research, “you could probably go through an instrumental education major starting tomorrow and complete it before we see a pub on campus.”

Harshman said some advantages to an on-campus pub include livening up the University’s social activity scene—something that could help keep students here longer and on weekends. He also said the pub could be an economic blessing for UWRF.

“It’s not thoroughly researched, but I think that we can draw a real profit out of this for the campus,” he said. “In that same article that Gregg [Heinselman] handed me regarding Wisconsin campus pubs, it gave a pretty good indication that a campus can expect to rake in some spending cash.”

However, Harshman said he is aware of the opposition he and SAAS will be facing on this issue, including issues of underage consumption violations and whether a pub would be seen as promoting alcohol at UWRF.

“Student Health [Services] has been bringing in excellent news for the past few years about UWRF’s statistics regarding alcohol use on campus,” he said. “We’re doing awesome, but could a pub reverse that progress?”

UWRF sophomore Shell Heeg said she does not support an on-campus pub at UWRF.

“I think the bad would outweigh the good,” she said. “I think it would really not look good for the University, and I’m not sure that parents of potential students would be impressed with this.”

Senior education major Julie Erickson said she does not think the underage issue would be a problem since an ID would be required. However, she said she is skeptical that the pub would make a large profit.

“There are too many other bars [in River Falls] and the people on campus are mostly underage,” she said. “No one that lives off campus is going to the UC for alcohol.”

As of now, Harshman said that this idea is exclusively one of SAAS, although he noted that Senate’s support is crucial once there is a general consensus among the student body. In an effort to guage the student body’s opinion on the issue, question number 11 on Student Senate’s annual spring ballot stated, “Would you support a pub to be established on this campus?”

“We’re in the pre-introductory stage to pre-planning right now, and are making it our top priority to work with administration and Student Health Services to get this to work,” he said. “We fully plan on getting our ducks meticulously in line with an all-out plan that is formed by both students and administration to see this through.”