On-campus bar may be worthy of consideration

With the closing of Panther Hollow Inn (PHI), known by many Carnegie Mellon students as the university’s unofficial campus bar, the campus community is left without a nearby popular alcohol-serving establishment.

This may be a larger issue than it initially seems, with the possibility of students having to travel as far as Oakland or Shadyside to socialize in an alcohol-friendly environment. Not only would walking to and attending distant bars at night expose students to greater safety risks, it may dilute the sense of social community surrounding a nearby campus cultural institution like PHI.

Many peer universities have on-campus pubs where students of legal drinking age can convene in a regulated setting to socialize and enjoy a bar atmosphere. Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) student-run Muddy Charles Pub, for example, prides itself on housing the networking conversations of students who have gone on to be Nobel laureates or prominent scholars. Harvard University also has a student-owned and operated pub, the Cambridge Queen’s Head. With the closing of PHI, Carnegie Mellon lacks a similar locale for students of legal age to relax and socialize. The Tartan would like to encourage Carnegie Mellon to consider instituting a similar on-campus pub.

There are concerns to be acknowledged regarding the discussion of having a campus bar. However, this may also be an opportunity for the university to establish a safer and more regulated facility for student drinking.

For instance, campus bars are traditionally strict about how intoxicated patrons can become, and Carnegie Mellon has enrollment data which contains students’ birthdays. Using that data, false IDs can be detected, and the university can ensure that all attending students are 21 years or older and can enjoy alcohol in a responsible fashion.

Given that the many alternatives for students who wish to go to bars involve walking into the neighborhoods surrounding campus, and drinking in institutions which may not police their patrons’ intoxication or interactions very thoroughly, students could be exposed to a greater amount of risk now that PHI has closed.

A campus bar would be within a quick response distance for campus police and would be located in a safe and typically convenient area for members of the campus community. Now that PHI no longer exists, students who wish to consume alcohol may do so more frequently in such settings as dorm and house parties.

Needless to say, these environments are not regulated and may result in dangerous alcohol consumption habits. Additionally, these settings don’t facilitate the same relaxed social setting and networking opportunities that campus bars can provide. It might even be worthwhile to consider managing a campus bar as a valuable, practical opportunity for business or management students.

This is not a proposal for the development of a campus bar, but it is an idea that should be considered. The closing of PHI has left a notable gap in Carnegie Mellon’s campus culture. PHI was a close, safe place to grab a drink with friends and socialize, and the role of pubs in networking for students and future scholars has been well-established, hence the presence of these institutions on the campuses of universities like Harvard University and MIT. Carnegie Mellon should engage in a discussion to consider the possible benefits and drawbacks of a similar institution and determine whether pursuing such a project would be beneficial.