Students Face Reality of Small-Town Drinking Scene

Paul Gomez ‘22

Staff Writer

Brickhouse Tavern is a popular destination for students looking for off-campus alcohol options.  Photo courtesy Jonathan Lee ‘20, Hope Anderson ‘22, and Sarah Griffin ‘22. 

At a small college like Davidson, the options for students-of-age to consume alcohol are inherently limited. Two weekends ago, when Armfield residents decided not to serve any alcohol in the open-consumption area, the absence of alternative drinking spaces became especially glaring. 

The first floor of the Armfield apartments, colloquially known as “F,” is a staple of the weekend social scene. Some, however, find the Armfield environment both monotonous and indirectly coercive. 

Caroline Miller ‘20 thinks that some students feel as though “they have to get really drunk to have fun […] otherwise, [F] is just a bunch of people standing around.” 

“I wish there was a place or program on campus where we could simply enjoy alcohol in a safe and more relaxed environment,” said Queena Chen ‘21, one of the Health Advisors for the newly rebranded Center for Student Health and Well-Being. “Alcohol is meant to be appreciated […] like an art form.”

While open events sponsored by houses on Patterson Court offer the rare substitution for the Armfield drinking scene, students expressed how the prospect of Patterson Court as the sole alternative to the F drinking scene is not sustainable. 

Fiji President Zach Miller ’20 commented on the difficulties of having more house-sponsored events: “Registering for events is a week-long process […] there are pretty strict policies on having risk managers and other [requirements]. We’ll [have events at the house] every few weeks or once a month, but any more than that puts a strain on our members.” 

“Even at eating house events it feels like there is a certain formula that we have to follow to have fun. We have to have pregames, then go to the house to drink more, then go to F, and that all has to be successful,” said Helen Sturm ‘20.

When it comes to the Brickhouse Tavern, a popular drinking venue for upperclassmen, frequenting the bar on any night besides Thursdays can become a burden for the wallets of struggling college students. 

“The fact that people basically only go on Thursdays makes Brickhouse a solid place for people to go once a week, but that leaves the whole weekend for people to find alcohol elsewhere,” said Jake Clary ‘20. “If $2.50 pint night were on Friday or Saturday, then there would be a lesser incentive for students to get their alcohol from F.”

Last year, there was a push to establish the on-campus Summit Outpost (also known as “Nummit”) as the primary alternative to the “down the hill” drinking scene on campus. Compared to the often rowdier Armfield parties, the Outpost tries to provide a more relaxed drinking environment, where students who may just want to quietly destress and enjoy the company of friends can go. 

“Having alternative drinking options allows us to see alcohol outside the lens of binging. I have found that enjoying drinks over nice conversations at Nummit are some of my happiest Davidson memories,” commented Luis Toledo ‘20. 

Another non-Armfield source of alcohol for of-age students is Union Board-sponsored events. Live Thursdays, weekly showcases of student musical performances in the 900 Room, always offer a bar for students to purchase beer and wine at. Union Board also offers Cats Excursions trips to all students; many of the excursions go to venues that serve alcohol, including Charlotte Hornets games and a performance of the Aladdin Broadway show at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center last Friday. 

“I think it’s great to provide spaces where you can practice safe drinking and being an actual adult in the real world,” said Haley Jobe ‘20, the current Cats Excursions Chair for the Union Board. “I think [Cats Excursions] is a great alternative for upperclassmen.” 

This Saturday, Fall Fling, the annual homecoming event put on by the Union Board and the Student Government Association, will offer a cash bar for students, another respite from the typical drinking options.  

Sturm concluded, “I hope that we can have more weekend activities where drinking isn’t a situation where we win or lose, but is something to do willingly without pressure.” 

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