The status of the Rathskellar is a contentious issue here at the University of Tampa. The establishment, found under Plant Hall, has a long and distinguished history as a social spot on campus. Recent times have seen some renewed interest in the Rat, as the Empire State Grill offers new food options there. However, with Student Government’s recent pledge to restore the Rathskellar as an alcohol-serving venue, one of our institution’s longest running social struggles is about to begin anew.

As recently as the 1980s, the Rathskellar served alcohol to students. Pressures from administration mounted against the Rathskellar’s supporters, and the taps were eventually cut off in an effort to curb consumption on campus. However, The Minaret would like to raise its voice to support the return of responsible alcohol availability at the Rathskellar.

There are many issues to consider when a decision such as this is being considered. Opponents may claim that the return of alcohol to the Rat would project the wrong image to potential students and their parents. There is also a belief that alcohol-fueled incidents may occur. However, these concerns do not take stock of the potential benefits of taking this step, which will allow the University to separate itself from the often destructive club culture of Ybor City.

The foremost concern of all parties involved should be the safety of the student body. Establishing a responsible, friendly and safe drinking venue on campus would give students a true alternative to a potentially dangerous and exploitative drinking environment. Incidents are much less likely to occur on campus where events can be monitored. Helping students learn to drink responsibly and make informed decisions can only benefit our university community.

Beyond this, the Rathskellar has much to offer students. Its casual yet historic ambience is a potential asset that has gone to waste in recent years. The creation of the Empire State Grill is a step forward, but does not go far enough. In past times, it was not unusual for small groups of students to gather, without incident, for a bite to eat and a drink. The Rathskellar, should it be opened for regular hours and allowed to follow the will of the student body, presents the perfect environment for discussion among peers and meetings between students and professors.

In short, the Rathskellar was once an important part of campus culture, something that distinguished the University of Tampa from other schools and fostered traditions within the student body. Without it, UT loses an important part of its identity. We cheer Student Government for working responsibly to restore this important part of our campus life.

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