Staff Ed: Return of alcohol to Underground is good sign that UMW is listening to students
By THE BLUE & GRAY PRESS STAFF
Most current University of Mary Washington students were not old enough to enjoy the times when alcohol was readily available for purchase on campus, and many others don’t remember a time when it was offered at all.
But that is changing soon, and the UMW community has voiced their appreciation for the return of alcohol. It has been two years since an Eagle could stay on campus to have a drink. Since alcohol’s departure, some students have feared that the school would head towards receiving “dry” status, meaning no alcohol would be served or allowed anywhere on campus, like many other Virginia universities. But the recent announcement of the Underground’s new drink menu put those worries to bed.
While alcohol consumption obviously has its risks, there are many benefits to offering it on campus. First of all, students do not have to walk far at night and put themselves in danger and it also prevents students from needing to drive while intoxicated to travel to bars. Students save money on tips and Uber rides and are more likely to attend on-campus events in the Underground.
Students will be much less likely to over-drink with Underground employees keeping an eye on them rather than a crowded bar scene, and if a student’s health is in danger, help is much more readily available.
Retention is an issue that UMW has been working to combat for years. Many first-year or second-year students leave UMW, citing that the school wasn’t as “fun” as they were promised. With the added incentive of on-campus alcohol, those students are more likely to stay long enough to enjoy Underground drinks when they become of age.
Few critics have come out against the addition of alcohol to the Underground and the benefits certainly outweigh the risks. For years, students have wanted alcohol back on campus and for the last three semesters, students have begged for the Underground to be open longer. These changes prove that the school is listening student needs and making honest efforts to appeal to their wants.
When WOW Wingery left its spot in the Nest, students complained that the Nest had nothing else to offer. This semester, with the addition of the Hot Spot, steps are being taken in the right direction to satisfy those students’ desires.
The last few semesters at UMW have been dominated by students’ complaints, particularly towards dining, but other areas as well. These changes are proof that the surveys sent out are being looked at and considered, not just tossed aside. If we really want to make UMW “fun,” we need to be willing to spend the time to voice our concerns when given the opportunity, not just ranting on Facebook.