Perma pub? more than booze

Castleton students looking to wet their whistles on frigid Vermont nights may soon have a classier on-campus alternative to popular local haunts, such as The Dog and Flubberbusters. Members of the Castleton community, including students and faculty, are hoping CSC will follow in the footsteps of the University of Vermont, by building a new hot spot on campus, complete with booze, music, and a cozy social atmosphere.

“It’s going be a really nice funky, nightclub-café, kind of place,” said anthropology Professor Phil Lamy, whose Community and American Society class has helped spawn CSC staples such as the coffee cottage and the planned snowboard park.

The proposed café/pub would be built in the current Spartan room of the Huden dining hall. The room, which would seat between 50 and 60 people, would feature an alpine ski lodge motif, complete with a bar, TVs, a stage, couches, and even a gas stove. Students would also be allowed to contribute original artwork to decorate the walls.

Currently, CSC sponsors the occasional “pub night” in Huden’s Alumni room on Thursday evenings. It allows students who are of drinking age a chance to purchase alcoholic beverages, such as beer and wine, and enjoy an evening of music and friends in a controlled space.

“It’s a relaxed environment,” said CSC senior Joe Zeitler, a student in Prof. Lamy’s class, and one of the key members of the Third Place Committee (TPC). “We haven’t had any issues with any of our pub nights.”

Although reaction to a potential campus pub has been mostly positive, with everyone from students to faculty in support, Lamy stresses that the primary focus of the TPC is centered on the potential for the room itself- not just as a place to pound back brewskies.

“We’re not trying to do a pub at this point,” Lamy said. “Only because we want to take things one step at a time. We want to build the place first.”

Lamy and Zeitler hope that redesigning the Spartan room into a multifunctional social space, a Third Place, for all students, including clubs and organizations, will further the close-knit community atmosphere that CSC prides itself in selling. A permanent pub, Lamy says, will come after a social base is established and begins to flourish.

Students also want a more comfortable place to lay low after a long day of studying and writing papers.

“It’s still got that Huden feel,” said CSC student Josh Riley, in response to the current atmosphere of the Alumni room pub nights.

“Drinking beer out of a plastic cup makes me feel like I’m at an 18-year-old kid’s kegger party,” he said. “It would be awesome if they could do it [the room] right.”

Rumors of a Castleton-sponsored “pub” have been floating around campus for some time. And while support continues to grow for a student watering hole, there are still those who object to the entire idea.

“I don’t believe that you need to drink to have a good time,” said Judith Carruthers, Director of Career Development at CSC. “We have people [sports teams] that are doing really, really, well, and nobody shows up and supports it. Why not show up there? Have a hot chocolate. Why do you need to have a pub night?”

Carruthers’ is concerned that the school’s reputation could also be affected as a result of a campus-sponsored pub, as Castleton would be held liable should any alcohol-related accidents take place after students hit the stools. She also worries that a pub night may just be another way for students to “pregame” before a night of heavy drinking elsewhere.

“What happens is they have a couple of beers at the pub night. That’s fine, chilled out, very nice,” she said. “Then they go to a party later, get smashed, and get in an accident”.

“Kid dies in car accident after Castleton pub night.” she said sarcastically. “Can’t you just envision that header?”

Zeitler and Lamy disagreed, stating that CSC already allows of-age students to drink in the dormitories, and would be liable regardless if a student was injured in an accident after drinking anywhere on campus. They said students are more likely to get drunk in the dorms than they would in the controlled environment of a campus pub.

“Binge-drinking doesn’t go on here [pub night], there are no funnels,” Lamy said, also adding that the staff at the current pub nights reserve the right to deny serving alcohol to anyone they believe to be too intoxicated.

Zeitler also pointed out that Safe Ride is in attendance at every pub night, and always allows students the option of taking a ride home if they’ve had too much to drink.

Ultimately, the final decision for a campus pub/Third Place rests in the hands of the Student Association. Zeitler and the TPC will present their proposal to the S.A. on Tuesday Nov. 13, in hopes of gaining the final bit of support they need in order to begin work on the new room. Although the TPC knows it may be a hard act to sell, they still believe they have plenty of fact-backed firepower and support from the community.

“President Wolk is our biggest supporter,” Lamy said with a smile.

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