It is high time that the campus pub of old be restored. From 1973 through 1983, what is now Chancellor Green Caféwas a popular place for Princeton faculty and students to go for a pint after class. Of course, back in those good old days, the drinking age in New Jersey was 18 rather than 21, and there wasn’t the inconvenient upperclassman-underclassman divide there is today. It is no coincidence that the campus pub was closed in 1984, the same year that New Jersey upped the legal imbibing age. Yet closing the pub was a mistake, and today there seems to be no disagreement: Princetonians—students, faculty and administrators —hope for the return of the campus pub.
In the spring of 2011, the Working Group on Campus Social and Residential Life issued a report unanimously recommending the reestablishment of the campus pub. Only the logistics remained to be negotiated. A steering committee was formed. Locations were discussed. Café Vivian in Frist Campus Center was selected. In November 2012, the University sought a license from the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control for the project. And then things fizzled out. Two years have elapsed, and no additional progress appears to have been made. This is disappointing.
Allow us to help with the logistical minutiae to accelerate the process. We propose that the campus pub be restored to its former glory in the same location it occupied 30years ago. Chancellor Green Café is the best location, certainly better than the formerly proposed Café Vivian location: Chancellor Green Café is central on campus, has a healthier distance from the Street than CaféViv and isn’t in that monolithic and multipurpose structure known as Frist, which would fog much of the potential benefit of the creation of a special gathering space. The atmosphere of Chancellor Green Café seems most conducive to a pub, provided the appropriate renovations to give it the right wood-paneled tap-room feel. As a part of East Pyne, it would have a neat, old-school location, and, unlike Café Vivian, it wouldn’t be swallowed up by the campus center circus.
There are other worries. The current drinking age is still a general nuisance but one that must be accommodated—at least until New Jersey asserts its right to change it back to 18. All Princetonians should be welcomed at the pub. The chief appeal of the campus pub, of course, is the provision of fine alcoholic beverage. Nevertheless, we suggest that pub food and non-alcoholic drinks be offered as well, making the pub an attraction for all University students. As with residential college upperclassman socials, two forms of identification (prox and state-issued) should be required to purchase alcohol. We further suggest that Princetonians be able to welcome two non-Princetonian guests.
The campus pub should ideally open around 4:30 p.m., just in time for students to take a professor or preceptor to happy hour, and remain open until midnight or so. Thursdays and Saturdays should have later closing times, given the nature of the University’s weekly social schedule. During the rest of the day, the location could continue to function as a café. To ensure reasonable pricing for good quality beer and wine, the pub could be operated chiefly by well-trained student bartenders. This would allow the University to hire more student workers as well.
The reinstated campus pub would be more than just another nice Princeton amenity. It would contribute to two important University ends: community and virtue cultivation. The University is a community of scholars sharing in intellectual engagement and friendship that are only fully possible through personal interaction. A campus pub would provide an excellent place to foster such communal conviviality among students and faculty outside of the classroom. Second, the pub would encourage virtue though responsible social alcohol consumption. It would stand as a healthy alternative to the binge drinking that often results from dorm pregaming. As a venue for the intermingling of classes, clubs, faculty and students and for responsible drinking, the campus pub would serve the University well.
Today begins Undergraduate Student Government elections, and on the ballot, you will notice two referenda. The second asks, “Shall the undergraduates urge the administration to reestablish a campus pub?” Naturally, the answer should be a resounding “yes.” We hope that the University will move the ball forward, so we won’t be writing this same editorialyetagain in another two years.
TheEditorial Boardis an independent body and decides its opinionsseparately from the regular staff and editors of the ‘Prince.’ The Board answers only to its chair, the opinion editor and the editor-in-chief.