Point Counter Point: Is it appropriate for faculty and staff to drink with students in the 1862 Lounge?

February 9, 2016

Lakeland’s 1862 Lounge is a place for all on campus – faculty, staff and students – to hang out and have a drink if so inclined and of age. Incidences have occurred, however, where the atmosphere has turned uncomfortable. Our columnists tackle whether or not this activity is appropriate.

On a college campus, interaction between students, faculty and staff is bound to reach outside the classroom, especially when we have a venue that facilitates such experiences.

Some may think that this extra interaction should be limited or labeled inappropriate when the situation involves drinking. But if all involved are behaving as they should, I do not see the problem in the comingling of these people just because they are all on campus and alcohol is involved.

As a student, I have been to my share of events that have been held in the 1862 Lounge wherein students, faculty and staff were all in attendance and some of these people were enjoying a beer. Nothing inappropriate was taking place.

If a professor wants to have a beer while having a discussion with other like-minded individuals, regardless that we are on campus or students are in attendance, there is no problem.

All those involved in such a situation are adults, and while I do recognize that faculty and staff are typically older, wiser and in positions of power, we should all act as such and be expected to behave appropriately.

This only becomes a problem when we make it a problem.

When someone abuses this sense of shared community by behaving inappropriately, then the issue is with that person and their actions, not with the standard already in place.

To say that faculty and staff cannot drink when in the campus bar would be defeating the purpose of it being a bar.

If this is really of such concern to people, then make the choice not to hang around with other drinking adults. If a student really does not feel grown up enough to be around others responsibly engaging in adult behavior, then they need to make the choice to remove themselves from that situation and not punish those who have done nothing wrong.

Saying it is inappropriate for an adult to drink among other adults is just childish.

If you are in the 1862 Lounge and a professor of yours is having a beer and behaving like an adult, but you are uncomfortable, the problem is with you, not the professor.

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After recent events on campus, I am wary of students, faculty and staff drinking together in the 1862 Lounge. While some students may find it fun to drink with them, other students find the lounge as their escape.

The bar at the 1862 Lounge is a place for students to meet up after a long day of classes and destress with a drink. It is a safe, on-campus alternative where people can socialize.

While it is legally okay for faculty and staff to partake in this socialization, it isn’t their place.

There is a wide spread of bars in the area where staff and faculty can meet up to drink, but the students who live on campus and wish to walk home instead of drive can become intimidated by their presence.

For example, say I was 21 and wanted to grab a drink with my friends to tell them about my crummy day at work. When we get there, my supervisor is there socializing with other professors. It would be extremely uncomfortable and frankly rude to tell my story at that point. Our group would either have to seclude ourselves to our apartment or move to an off campus alternative, which forces someone to be the designated driver.

I believe the 1862 Lounge should be a friendly atmosphere for students to drink on campus without having to drive back to their housing. Because the lounge is in the center of campus, it is easily accessible to everyone living there.

If I drink a little too much, I don’t want my professor to walk in and see the drunken mess I could be. I don’t want them to see me differently.

There are occasions where drinking with students is acceptable. If you are at a conference with a professor and during dinner you both have a few, that’s perfectly okay. What I am concerned about is students feeling pressured to not fully optimize the 1862 Lounge in fear that faculty and staff would catch them intoxicated.

So do as you please, but keep in mind that the students do come first on campus. The 1862 Lounge is there for students to take advantage off, staff and faculty presence could add to potentially awkward situations.

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