University: Not Fun Anymore?

I read an article yesterday that said Canada’s university pubs are closing because students are drinking less. They opt instead for coffee shops or juice bars, or I don’t know, reading or jogging or something healthy. Anyhow, not too long ago in my University Lament, I mentioned how drinking was intrinsic to my academic career. I thought that was standard, a universal norm? But then I read this article and it made me sad…not because students aren’t drinking, but because this artcile mentioned that Edmonton’s Power Plant was closing.

The Dears’ first few cross-Canada tours took us through a lot of these college bars, and I can understand why some of them might be closing: Student Unions would pay out really high guarantees to bands (versus local promoters who don’t take those risks), which was great for us, but didn’t seem sustainable for the university. Students haven’t stopped getting wasted – they just go off campus, because campus pubs probably have to abide by too many Student Union rules to be fun. The Power Plant was an exception: we played there a few times, and it was always the most looked-forward to stop on a tour. Big stage, big room, soundcheck in natural light (!), great treatment, and nice staff, things that go a long way after you’ve been sitting in a van for eight hours.

University bars closing is a natural progression. I remember going to Reggie’s at Concordia where they had cheap, crappy pitchers of beer, and I even remember drinking there once while some students performed “Death of a Salesman.” That was weird. Nothing stays the same, and universities are evolving organisms that have to change with their students.

4 Replies to “University: Not Fun Anymore?”

  1. Wow. My hometown alma-mater has closed the Powerplant. This trend at universities is an interesting phenom…More disturbing in Edmonton is the fact that another great live music emporium closed recently – the Sidetrack Cafe. There are fewer and fewer places to hear good live music for a reasonable price in this town, though paradoxically it seems that this place is becoming more of a tour stop for lots of big name musicians, appearing at the bigger venues. No secret that there’s lots of money in Alberta for Big Entertainment. On another note, it bites me that I missed The Dears here; I have just become a fan recently, and I look forward to your next stop here…

  2. Here at Mcgill we’re all amazed our only campus bar Gert’s hasn’t shut down yet. I think the only thing that keeps it alive is the side stand for Al-Taib pizza.

  3. Running an on-campus pub has become a dangerous proposition in the past few years. As OAC was phased out in Ontario, universities had to adjust to a first-year class that was, for the first time, predominantly underage. Universities responded with all-age nights, increased scrutiny on underage drinking, etc.
    Along with slimmer university budgets comes less tolerance for loss-posting services, I’d imagine. In my experience (at Queen’s), many of the school pubs have been posting major losses, year after year, for as long as I’ve gone here.
    On a related note, Queen’s has recently seen the closing of Clark Hall Pub, the campus engineering bar. This was directly related to massive liquor-license violations, as well as what some have termed significant corruption among bar staff and management. As usual at Queen’s, a massive culture of entitlement and cronyism, prevalent among both faculty and students, has played no small role in events.
    I mourn only for the loss of yet another venue to play. (My band actually had a show canceled on short notice when Clark closed.) Kingston is already painfully short of good places to play.

  4. I found this to be a very interesting situation. Our bar is in danger because of too many people being drunk, see link below. Actually we have 2 bars on campus, both have undergone renovations recently and they look great. In my almost 5 years there I can’t remember a time when both weren’t somewhat full. I don’t know what’s going on in Edmonton but for me Oliver’s and Mike’s were what helped me get through many tests, presentations, a thesis-like paper, and exams.

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