Student hopes to gain administrative support to reopen bar
May 11, 2017
Associated Student Government Junior Senator Mac McOsker is leading the charge to again have beer and wine served in The Bronco
Before its closure, the bar was a campus facet from 1981 until 2012. During his campaign for ASG president, the initiative was part of McOsker’s election platform.
“Right now, 100 percent of alcohol consumed by Santa Clara students is done off campus, behind closed doors,” McOsker said. “I think bringing alcohol back on campus would bring education back to alcohol.”
Though McOsker lost the presidential race to junior Jack Herstam, he is still determined to make the project happen.
The university’s alcohol policy is already looser than many others. People of legal drinking age may consume alcohol on campus property, which allowed the former bar in The Bronco to serve beer and wine.
The Bronco was not open to the rest of Benson Memorial Center in those days, making for a more private environment that was deemed suitable for serving alcohol according to Vice Provost for Student Life Jeanne Rosenberger.
But, drinks were cheaper at the Hut. Because of overhead charges, The Bronco could not sell drinks at the same price as its main competitor.
Management staff had to be present during the hours alcohol was served and paying the additional personnel costed more than daily staff, according to Rosenberger.
What’s more, few events that served alcohol for law students and graduates were successful. The Bronco was just breaking even, leading the Division of Student Life to subsidize these costs with resources that would be otherwise used for student initiatives like CSOs and RSOs, according to Rosenberger.
Once Benson was redesigned in 2010, The Bronco stopped serving alcohol in 2012 and became more integrated with the rest of the dining facility.
But after The Hut closed in December, McOsker said he thinks serving alcohol on campus will fill the void left by the legendary off-campus bar.
“People are going to drink alcohol,” McOsker said. “It’s a college campus.”
McOsker said he thinks that serving alcohol on campus will teach students how to be safe consumers.
He also said he thinks reintroducing an on-campus bar would aid violence prevention, as establishing drink limits could reduce over-consuming and monitoring student activity in a controlled environment “The administration doesn’t know how much people are drinking,” McOsker said. “I think it’s much more than they assume.”
McOsker listed Stanford, Gonzaga, the University of San Francisco and Georgetown University as schools similar to Santa Clara that currently serve alcohol on their campuses. Santa Clara is behind the times, McOsker said.
While the topic of serving alcohol on campus has been met with enthusiasm by some students, it has also received pushback from other students and the administration. Though Rosenberger supported the survey McOsker created to sample interest in an on-campus bar, both she and Assistant Vice President of Auxiliary Services Jane Barrantes highlighted their concerns.
“I think our community needs to grapple with what, right now, is our number one public health problem on campus, which is student abuse of alcohol,” Rosenberger said.
Another issue is that about 70 percent of the over- 21-year-olds live off campus, according to Barrantes. She doubted that an on-campus bar would draw enough students of age back onto campus to make the expense worth it.
“All of our campus should be welcoming to those who are under 21,” Barrantes said.
When alcohol was served in The Bronco in the past, anyone could walk in but it catered predominantly to the over- 21 crowd. Part of the survey McOsker distributed tried to combat this by gauging student interest in the initiative.
“I think that students tend to be more pessimistic on the possibility of things happening when they’re deemed radical and impossible,” McOsker said. “Students should be rethinking possible.”
Rosenberger says she thinks the matter could go either way. She acknowledged the compelling argument for the controlled environment aspect, but also said there are many other options available for students to consume alcohol.
Rosenberger could not offer a definitive answer on the matter, saying the university is a long way from making a decision due to the various considerations that need to be taken into account.
“I think it is an open question,” Rosenberger said. “But I don’t think it’s a slam dunk on fixing the problem.”
Looking forward, McOsker is going to continue to raise awareness and start a petition to get even more students on board “to make a case so strong the administration doesn’t have a choice but to respond to the survey.” As for the administration, they will continue to consider it.
Contact Meghan McLaughlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.