Matthew Henry Smith ’16
Dear Providence College: Acquire Louie’s Tavern
Providence College needs a place for all students, those above and below the age of 21, to mingle, dance and fist-pump. For those who would quickly point to McPhail’s and say, “look we do” you would be correct. McPhail’s exists as an on-campus entertainment center with a bar, a dance floor, pool tables, televisions and mood lighting. Student Congress is working on extending the hours of the establishment and offering alcohol more days per week. SAIL is working on many engaging events for the semester in terms of weekend programming and even offers grants to student organizations so that they can hold events on weekends.
But there remain some issues with the concept of McPhail’s. While it provides weekend programming, this programming is not consistently the nightlife club-culture that students really crave. The lack of appeal is exacerbated by McPhail’s structural issues, chiefly, that you have to go through the student center to get to this bar. On nights where events require costumes or upscale attire, the location can definitely be a buzz kill. There is no entrance to the bar from outside of the structure of the Slavin Center, which would arguably create that much sought after “club vibe.”*
And so, apart from some of these successful “themed” shindigs that take place on Friday and Saturday Nights, I “have heard” that the majority of students who are less engaged by these are heading out to the bars underage. I’ve “heard” that this has been the practice for years now. And I know that this is why Louie’s Tavern shut down before it was closed by the State.
I have had friends get arrested at bars for being there underage, and all of us have at least heard whispers of the Fake ID process; the hurdles, the expense, the risks. Why are students doing this? Especially considering, aside from the “hot-kid-dangerous” sex appeal of being bad, nightlife has become a real ordeal, eventually underclassmen have to do a risk analysis and say “Is it worth it?”
While many of my peers are beginning to answer “No,” I think it is time for PC to do a risk assessment, too. With these businesses being tied to PC students, we need to discuss whether or not the campus amenities have provided a legitimate alternative.
To be clear, I also argue that the driving force behind underage students going to bars is not the pursuit of alcohol. Chances are they could accomplish that in dorms, (and for much less money). The heart of the matter is that there is a strong, undeniable appeal to nightlife, camaraderie and dancing that is not intrinsically tied to “breaking the rules.”**
So, while we work on getting McPhail’s back in Saturday Night Shape, let’s talk about a real opportunity: Louie’s Tavern. Located conveniently on Douglas right near one of our PC Shuttle stops the bar has a reputation of being real a hip place for students to enjoy themselves. My suggestion is that PC should purchase or lease Louie’s and operate it under the same name with these conditions:
- That it be open, 18+, to all PC students, alumni and friends of PC students
- That it serve booze only to those of age
- That it be staffed by PC students and “locals” (with hiring preference given to members of the Wanskuck community)
- That it play REALLY good music to REALLY dance to
And that’s all, Friars. This could be a solution that benefits all of us. What with local student landlords being brought before the state, the closing of Louie’s Tavern, publicized student arrest and our perennial “red-cup” problem we must remember that the actions of students in the community are tied to the institution, and that the actions, or non-actions, of the institution, are tied to its students. Let’s all do a risk assessment this weekend.
*Student Amanda Talbot has been shouting about this for years.
**Only a little bit.