What If Town Came To Us?
It’s the perpetual and omnipresent promise of the politically ambitious. Not a year goes by without some WSU board hopeful promising that they will put a bar on campus. The vision has always slightly varied from a place to get cheap pub food, to an after-class place to get a few quiet drinks or even preload before town. But if we really have a magic wand for campus development then we are going to have to look through a different lens and realise that they were all thinking far too small. What if instead of building a place to kick off your town drinking we just brought town to us?
Let’s frame these two pages for you. Our vision is to build three new pubs next to each other catering to three different vibes. We will explain how doing that will create a potentially safer environment for our student population, create more engagement on campus, change the economic argument and help fund campus development and clubs for years to come. It’s ambitious but it makes us smile.
Cost and binge drinking
Let’s start by addressing a few of the problems. Listen to certain groups of residents or even some of the elder statesmen of campus, they will tell you that the drinking culture among youth is out of control. They will point to the same stories of people getting too drunk in the halls before trying to get into town, and they will say that is emblematic of a drinking culture that wasn’t the same as in their day. To be honest it’s such a circular argument that it is ridiculous. Here is the cycle:
– Landlords increase costs for venues in town
– Venues subsequently increase prices to remain in business
– Students can’t afford to drink in town so they stay at home and drink first.
– Venues that used to be viable because they had people drinking in there from 9pm now close their doors before 11pm
– Students condense their drinking in a hall or at a flat to between 9-11pm
– Students then have to pay for a cab.
– Venues realise they aren’t getting the same revenue and start to implement a cover charge.
– Students seeing the rising costs of town and alcohol, in general, enhance their evening further with chemicals or weed
What you have is a cycle that benefits no one. Students are blitzed and aren’t in control of their actions. Cabbies are annoyed. Venues are struggling
The second obvious problem with the current town ecosystem is student safety. While it would be easy to simply say that moving town to campus is going to solve drinking culture, it isn’t going to solve rape culture. Let’s be unequivocal in this, if someone is raped then it isn’t their fault for drinking; it isn’t what they are wearing; it isn’t that they were walking home late at night. It is that someone decided to rape them. Moving town to campus isn’t going to be the all-encompassing panacea that stops trash sub-humans. It is, however, going to take reasonable steps that combined with the moves to limit binge culture make it easier to provide some reasonable expectations around student safety. In essence, creating a year-round safety zone with campus security. It is going to lessen the impact of people walking home, and people walking into traffic. It will limit the culture of town brawling by extending consequences to be code of conduct ones with academic impact. It will limit the access to students by those outside of student communities making it possible to have student only experiences.
SO, HOW DO WE DO IT?
It’s our three-bar solution to campus. Each bar, conveniently located in the corner of the fields on Knighton Road. Each bar would be a three-way partnership between the Students’ Union, the venue operators, and the University itself. The venue would get to operate in the environment rent-free provided it’s drink prices were set by a committee that includes student representatives. Profit-sharing arrangements would be in place with the University and WSU share going directly into student initiatives or funding mechanisms like the Student Services Levy, which in turn would lessen the need to constantly raise those fees and add them to your student loan. You would literally be drinking your way to a cheaper student loan. Other initiatives could be the Student Campus Building Fund Trust, or contestable clubs and student hardship grants. Ensuring your drinking helps those students who are having a tougher time than you. More than that, by linking those bars and a potential retail precinct to a student discount service and reward programme on your student ID, you are literally being incentivised to go and get a meal, watch the big game, or try to avoid your own reflection when the lights come on at 3 am.
OK, WHAT ARE THE THREE BARS?
The first one is obvious. We move Bar 101 to campus. It isn’t working in town since the last move and could find a great new home for cheap Cruisers and Double Brown near Studville. This bar would do a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of a “Student Night Club” chips, cheap hamburgers and DJ’s and bands doing covers and remixes of bangers. It’s a win-win for a bar that nobody can find a home for now. It gives you an easy O’Week venue and it is built for big acts.
THE GOOD STUDENT
Admittedly, getting The Lawrenson Group and The Good George Brewery crowd to operate two venues next to one another without feeling competitive may be more difficult than solving the crisis in the middle east with a two-state solution, but we have a fucking magic wand this week so let us dream. In our minds, the two venues would operate with two very different offerings for students. The Good Student would allow for a more dinner and social evening oriented crowd with its evening entertainment being closer to what you might see at House or Keystone without the threat of lecherous divorcees or balding men in loveless marriages going through a midlife crisis. Just pure unadulterated joy. The Good Student would be the venue that hosts the comedy evenings, the big games, the breakfasts, and the open mics but at the same time, it would still be a venue with space to dance and a different vibe from Bar 101.
THE “INSERT NAME HERE” STATIC / HOOD / BACK BAR EQUIVALENT
Shut up! We know that The Hood has a different vibe than Static and Back Bar are going for but we also know the value of having a multi-theme venue Wednesday and Friday are your D’n’B nights. Thursday and Saturday are your R’n’B. Tuesday it’s Nathan Rahui’s karaoke bar. It just works. It also gives you another bookable event space that doesn’t need to always be open.
We are creating a Town Precinct that will:
– Reduce the costs of drinking
– Lessen the impact of (and to) drunk students in town
– Work to reduce the culture of preloading and binge drinking
– Attempt to provide a safer framework for students to enjoy
– Cut out a lot of tradies and divorcees
– Give Nathan a place to do karaoke and Josh and Harry a place to watch sports and get cheap burgers.