The college would immensely benefit from a low-intensity social environment like a pub. We’re talking comfy chairs, a pinball machine, and pints with professors. While the Union serves as the center of formal student life, social life at night often shifts down the hill for most students, and there is no current public space that facilitates student gathering. Union events are great but require students who live down the hill to make a premeditated decision to hike up to Alvarez. A pub serves as an organic coming-and-going place, a meeting point, a place to while away the hours without being holed up in a private apartment. The word pub comes from public house, and it’s been suggested that pubs played a vital role in the development of the literate, politically active middle class in England. We foresee a similar role for a pub on Davidson’s campus.
The College has of late grappled with the difficult question of marrying the seemingly divergent paths of sanctioned programming and student drinking habits. The conversion of the Outpost or some other building into a full British-style pub would provide an environment conducive to such a marriage, providing a venue not only for social interaction but also student performances, informal get-togethers with professors, organizational events, and small-scale student meetings. Patterson Court has its place, but it would be nice to have a space where it is possible to have a pint and be able to hold an intelligible conversation. It would also satisfy growing demand for a legal drinking place. The immense popularity of 21-Year Old Night at the 900 Room is testament enough, but it’s only once a week.
There is some concern that the student body is simply not large enough to support such a pub, but this concern is unwarranted. University of Cambridge colleges are often centered around a pub and do not have as many students each as Davidson does (King’s, for example, has about 700). Moreover, many colleges across the U.S. have campus bars, including Vassar (pop. 2400), where the pub “Matthew’s Mugs” has been a staple of student life for decades. Successful campus bars have also flourished at liberal arts colleges Bowdoin, Colby, and Hamilton. It might only be open at selected hours to keep down operating costs, but could recoup any startup costs even while providing important social services to the campus.
The fact is that it could act as a safety valve against binge drinking, be immensely popular, and run a profit.
Hayden Higgins ’12 is an anthropology major from Danville, CA. Contact him at email@example.com