Picture this as the scene surrounding a college campus: Two restaurants within walking distance of the campus, and both are not open after 9 p.m.; a small village store instead of a New England-based supermarket; and a library that neighbors the town’s grade school that’s rarely opened to the public.Is that the type of environment a prospective student would want to call home for four years?
While having the reputation of being among the oldest American institutions for higher learning, Castleton State College is located in a town with only a handful of stores and restaurants.
But the school could become more of a college town if their newest proposal is accepted with open arms.
Sociology Professor Philip Lamy has worked at Castleton for 15 years and is a major supporter of adding a “college atmosphere” to the school and its neighboring community. A graduate of the University of Massachusetts with a doctorate from Northeastern, Lamy is familiar with the interests and concerns of students in regards to recreational activities.
“This college should have more places for students to hang at in a community-environment,” he said. “There are no places open around 8 or 9 p.m. Where do students go during those hours? If they are drinking and driving, there’s an issue perhaps.”
Drinking in a new idea
Lamy is currently working with students in a movement to bring a pub onto campus. His students have hosted pub nights at the Spartan room in Huden Dining Hall, with each night having a board for student comments.
“We want more students to offer suggestions and help us create this place,” he said. “Most of the comments we’ve received so far have been very positive.”
Drinking and driving is an increasing problem in colleges throughout the United States. According to a statement from Dr. Aaron White of Duke University, traffic crashes claim more lives than anything else among young adults and “alcohol is involved in a significant proportion of these deaths.”
The students working with Lamy have stressed the need to cut down drinking and driving by creating a safe place.
“They initially wanted the pub as a way to address safe drinking,” Lamy said. “These students attested to the pub as a perfect place, but our supporters, including Dean Stone, have a problem with a pub as our response to safer drinking because people might find it contradictory; we thought our reasoning was counter-intuitive.
“Our current pub project – created by students – is focused on building a permanent place on campus and addressing the issue of safe drinking.”
Joseph Zeitler, a senior at Castleton, is playing a major role in trying to bring a pub onto campus. The Glens Falls native has worked on the pub’s proposal and has met with school President Dave Wolk and Dean of Students Greg Stone for advice on how to convey the group’s objectives.
“We wanted to create this place with the thought that any club or organization can host specific meetings or events within this room,” Zietler said. “The students of Castleton deserve this type of place on campus, and it would decrease drunk driving drastically while giving students a place to hang out, rather than just being stuck in the residence buildings.”
Not everyone on the bandwagon
Some students and faculty members, however, believe the school provides its students with enough things to do on campus and does not need to add a pub. Judith Carruthers, Castleton’s Director of Career Development, has publicly addressed her problems with the group’s ideas.
“I am 100 percent against a pub on campus,” Carruthers said. “There are over 40 clubs on campus with events to plan and attend; there are 20-plus sports teams with innumerable games to play or go watch.
“The ‘Cheers’ atmosphere of a pub is just a television fantasy and is completely unrealistic.”
But Lamy wants a pub or another place where students can interact in a responsible manner added as soon as possible, but he realizes that the town might not be welcoming to a livelier atmosphere.
“Our society is fearful to college drinking,” he said. “When I found out that John Rehlen is expanding the Deli and will use the extra room for a pasta restaurant, I encouraged him to make that place a pub instead. I think he quickly turned down the idea to avoid any problems wit the community.”
Before the proposed pub is installed on campus or in the Castleton community, the Town Select Board must approve the measure at a town meeting.
According to Lamy, the Board has a history of giving the school and its faculty a hard time with granting liquor licenses for on-campus events. More than one board member and Town Manager Jon Dodd declined to comment on whether they would support a proposed pub.
Zeitler will be doing an independent study with Lamy in the fall to further advocate the campus pub project, and hopes the community will support their efforts.
“I think the town of Castleton should realize that in order to be successful, their primary objective should be to focus on the needs and interests of CSC students,” Zeitler said. “Not focusing on the students’ needs and interests could be detrimental to the profits of the town’s businesses.