the V.R. – jbs -mts

Mike Toycen

It’s really no secret that the Lawrence University administration takes a deplorable view of the Viking Room, due in large part to liability. That they have to keep it open is only because of some alumni outcry. And they might have moved it to the campus center, but redoing the licensure was such a drag on time and energy that it was virtually impossible to accomplish moving it en masse. So, it remains, an oasis in an otherwise abandoned building. At least it now serves Schlitz on tap.
But the VR is an excellent resource for the campus, and it’s unfortunate the administration has negative feelings about it. Sure, it can be a drag on academic life, but the VR has plenty of positive features.
It allows –some of– the student body to mingle, something that is increasingly difficult to do on a campus where LU Security clamps down on drinking. Hiett parties can relieve this problem to some extent, but the grime factor is awful. The Viking room is a place where students are able to interact socially. Lawrence did just build a new campus center, but socializing isn’t always the first priority. When someone goes to the VR, it’s for social and only social reasons.
Also, it’s safer for students. Although Appleton is a relatively crime-free town, it’s a better Lawrence policy for students to stay on campus, where they’re under the watchful eye of security. I would suppose, seems pertinent especially to women, because of the dangers of being out in a bar town like Appleton late at night, dangers less prevalent in our small community of peers.
Another relevant point is its proximity. Wisconsin’s winters are deathly cold, and walking downtown is a grueling task, but one that students undertake. With the VR so close, it makes it easier on student body that, in wintertime, has to walk such a long distance. Though it is true that students may just instead drink in their dorm rooms, it’s safer at the VR, where Lawrence observes it.
The administration always harps that owning a campus bar is a liability. True — but so are Hiett parties where dozens of people are stuffed into a apartment with only one exit. The fire marshal would have absolutely no concern about that. But I digress.
The VR is an easy, tangible target. When drinking is confined to rooms, the university is by and large able to free itself of responsibility. VR drinking puts pressure on the university to discourage harmful alcohol intake. Lawrence should not sweep drinking problems under the rug.
If Lawrence is interested in making the VR safer, they should consider reducing the amount of hard alcohol sold. Most students seem to get alcohol poisoning from hard alcohol, not beer. Sinful as it may be, Lawrence should try to be more pragmatic about the VR and use it to its advantage. Drinking a beer can be good for the school.