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Alcohol Coming to a Campus Near You?

by Seth Friborg

Towards the end of 2016, Bemidji saw an increase of new businesses near the Bemidji State University campus. From the newly redesigned Bunkhouse—formerly the Novo—to the new Beaver Mart, a convenient market for students and residents alike, these

Beaver Mart, a convenience store located on the intersection of Bemidji Avenue North and Fifteenth Street Northwest, opened the end of December 2016. Photo by Ellen Lescarbeau.

businesses seem to be drawing in quite the crowds and are adding to the diversity of the Bemidji landscape, but one thing may seem concerning to those in the area. Both Bunkhouse and the Beaver Mart, while providing convenient amenities for students, sell alcohol very close to campus.

Being a dry campus with a strict policy against alcohol on school premises as well as having lost a student in 2014 to hypothermia who attempted to walk back to campus from a party while intoxicated, alcohol so close to BSU’s campus is a cause for concern.

Is this strict policy towards alcohol really helping the situation though? According to a 2015 study by The Washington Post, they discovered that roughly 1,825 people between the ages of 18-24 die of alcohol related incidents every year, with the majority of the cases being drunk driving related as U.S. News discovered that 1 in 5 college students admitted to driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Dan Haugan, the co-manager of the Bunkhouse said, “It will be a place to get a quick breakfast, a spot for students to do homework or just a fun place to hang out and try some craft beers.” The Bunkhouse offers students a location that wants to share what BSU means to the Bemidji community and still be able to give students a safe place to indulge when they want to. The restaurant will offer students the ability to enjoy alcohol with friends in a relatively safe environment while also maintaining a safe distance from the campus.

The Bunkhouse, located in the former Novo building across from the new University Heights student apartment building, is planning to donate 50 cents from every meal transaction to support Beaver Pride scholarships. Photo by Ellen Lescarbeau.

This same philosophy could be applied to the Beaver Mart, it is a convenient location within walking distance for students. This eliminates the need for students for drive if they are purchasing alcohol and could potentially keep them closer to the safety of campus.

The New York Times published this in a 2014 article on binge-drinking on college campuses, “Despite decades of research, hundreds of campus task forces and millions invested in bold experiments, college drinking in the United States remains as much of a problem as ever.”

Drinking in dangerous situations while in college seems to go hand in hand, but with the ability for students to consume alcohol relatively close to campus the need to hide what is going on behind closed doors is eliminated and students can bring their fun into a much safer place.

Keeping alcohol monitored by the University may be a very beneficial thing for the safety of students, but pushing them to leave campus and potentially drive while intoxicated could be very easily prevented with the additions of these two new businesses in the Bemidji community.