TCU Senate working to test on-campus pub at the Rez

TCU President Benya Kraus, a senior and one of the students spearheading the on-campus pub initiative, talks to students during an event on the Academic Quad on April 20. (Seohyun Shim / The Tufts Daily)

Tufts Community Union (TCU) President Benya Kraus and first-year TCU Senator Janey Litvin have begun an initiative to establish an on-campus pub. The pub would serve alcoholic beverages to those over 21, but would be an environment where undergraduates of all classes, graduate students and professors can come together.

According to Kraus and Litvin, the overarching goal of the pub would be to offer a more low-key common space where students can connect and to make student life more centralized.

“There is a big lack of diversity in social spaces on campus and not a lot of common spaces for students to gather in,” Kraus said. “But a pub atmosphere would be a space where students can just hang out on the weekends and is a great option as other pubs in the area are far and costly to get to. The pub also has great potential to be a space where undergraduate and graduate students can connect.”

Kraus noted that the plan is to start a short-term pilot project that would begin next semester at the Rez, where the coffee shop would host events and have alcohol available for purchase to those over 21. A goal of this pilot project would be to evaluate student interest.

“If the pub nights are successful in the Rez, it will demonstrate a need for a space like this,” Litvin said.

Director of Dining and Business Services Patti Klos told the Daily in an email that before the Rez begins serving, the university would have to apply for a license with the City of Somerville. Additionally, she noted the physical space of the Rez presented some challenges for a pub-like setting.

“The Rez has a number of limiting factors associated with its space — the Rez has no physical  boundaries (it’s an open space), has insufficient storage for securing alcohol, and the majority of the seating area is not accessible,” Klos said.

She added that Hotung Café is a more ideal location, given that it already has a club license, a kind of liquor license.

“Tufts Dining has suggested exploring a potential alternative, using an existing Club License for Hotung Café that would allow for the serving of beer and wine to members of the Tufts community and invited guests in that location,” Klos said.

The long-term vision for the project is to have a pub located in the space currently occupied by the bookstore, as there are potential plans to move the bookstore to the future Cummings building, according to Kraus.

“The campus center is supposed to be a place where students can connect socially and there is such a big space not being used for that purpose,” Kraus said.

Kraus also noted that the pub would be divided into two sections, with a 21+ basement where alcohol is served and a pub-like space is open to all students in the upper level.

“The downstairs, where the bookstore is now located, would be a 21+ functioning pub, and the upper floor would offer a pub-like environment with foosball, pool, Shirley Temples, etc.,” Kraus noted.

Litvin noted that the appeal of the pub would not just be the inclusion of alcohol, but also a wide array of specific events.

“We want it not just to be a pub but also co-hosted by academic departments or a poetry slam or an open mic, which would be a nice alternative to an out of control party and I believe it will attract a lot of people,” Litvin said.

According to Litvin and Kraus, there have been past projects to build an off-campus pub that have failed, but these failures are largely attributed to the fact that the students running the projects graduated before their completion.

“The reason past attempts haven’t come into fruition aren’t necessarily from administration roadblocks, but because there wasn’t strong continuation [from] students,” Kraus said.

This is why Kraus hopes to pass the baton to Litvin, who is a first-year and is dedicated to working on this project throughout her time at Tufts.

“I’m a freshman and I have a lot of time left, so I plan to continue to work with the Rez after this pilot year to expand this project into the future,” Litvin said. “I noticed in my first few weeks that social spaces were very much limited to Greek life among others, and it instilled in me the desire to create an alternative and communal social space on campus.”

Kraus and Litvin plan to address the potential noise problems associated with the pub by working with the Tufts University Police Department (TUPD).

“We plan to work with TUPD to control the rowdy aspect of a pub and how to be considerate of those working in the campus center,” Kraus said.

According to Mary Kate Skitka, one of the Rez student managers, the Rez is considering serving alcohol on a limited basis, independent of TCU Senate’s plans.

“Myself and the two other Rez managers have been investigating the possibility of serving alcohol at select events as well as during limited hours on the weekends. Our project is distinct from any plans of an on-campus pub,” Skitka, a senior, told the Daily in an email.

Skitka listed the different potential social uses of the Rez space, echoing similar ideas as Kraus and Litvin.

“Our primary goal is to expand the Rez as a social space to provide what we believe would be a unique, and comfortable space for the students to hang out, maybe over a beer at trivia night or with psych professors at a department event,” Skitka said. “We also hope that it could be a place for bringing together upperclassmen, graduate students, and professors.”

Overall, Kraus, Litvin and the Rez believe the pub will help students connect with one another in a relaxing shared space not currently present on campus.

“People will continue to separate unless there are spaces to bring them together,” Kraus said.