North Texas Daily

Opinion: Please, new Union, don’t kill my vibe

Opinion: Please, new Union, don’t kill my vibe

Opinion: Please, new Union, don’t kill my vibe
April 17
01:48 2014
In the 1980s, UNT was a lot cooler. I’m not just counting the decade’s fashion, music, or amazingly low hamburger prices – we used to have a bar on campus. It was called the Rock Bottom Lounge, located in the first-floor room of the Union you probably knew better as the building’s textbook store until the entire structure closed last year for construction of a new University Union.

The decision to sell beer and wine in the lounge was made in January of 1977 through a successful vote by the UNT Board of Regents, following more than two years of lobbying from the Student Association – the SGA of its day.

Despite the hilarious name, by all accounts the Rock Bottom Lounge was the best place to hear jazz in Denton for a brief, but glorious era. The famous UNT lab bands performed there from 1976 until the early ‘90s, when the lounge was shut down and packed with all your favorite textbooks instead.

After that, jazz performances moved to the Union’s One O’Clock Lounge, as well as the Syndicate, which continued to serve beer during performances for a few early years of the ‘90s – but somewhere between then and now, this practice dried up.

I say we bring it back. Even as you read this, construction is taking place to bring the UNT students of tomorrow a better University Union to serve their needs. Why not tell the administration of this campus that one of those needs is a bar, serving beer and wine to the legal drinkers who study here and giving students the experience of working in a real-world hospitality business?

I know it sounds crazy, but the idea of a student-operated campus pub in 2014 is not without precedent. In fact, two successful student bars serving beer and wine still operate on campus at Rice University in Houston – Willy’s Pub, which is run by undergraduate employees, and Valhalla, a bar operated by graduate student volunteers.

These businesses are fully licensed under Texas law, provide students with the proper certification to sell alcohol and offer the kind of concrete employment experience you just can’t get in a classroom.

This sort of arrangement is also possible at our state’s public institutions, including Texas State University, which employs students at George’s Bar in the Student Center on campus.

Opponents of such an idea will undoubtedly cite that college students are generally under 21 if they enroll immediately after high school, but this isn’t really the whole story. According to the College Board’s statistics, the average age of a full time UNT student is 21 – also known as the legal drinking age.

It’s time to move past the stereotypes and admit to ourselves that a large portion of our students are responsible, legal adults who might want to crack open a cold one at the end of the day, and are willing to bring their money straight to the university when they do it. And really, how can you enjoy live jazz properly without a glass of wine?

In this era of binge drinking, overly-litigious parents and the liability suits they file, the chance of this happening is probably a little less than zero — but gosh, wouldn’t it be something? I know I’d never be prouder to count myself a member of the Mean Green.

James Rambin is an English junior. He can be reached at

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