Rice must lend helping hand to a struggling Pub
It is necessary for Willy's Pub and the Rice University administration to work together to negotiate a plan to resolve the current Pub debt crisis (see story, page 1). The Thresher recognizes that Pub needs to pay its debt, but excessive charges for maintenance and administration fees are not the way to reinforce the importance of student-run businesses.
While Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson has criticized Pub's business plan as being unsustainable, Pub's most recent management has been working hard to overhaul the traditionally poor model - and has been succeeding. While Pub has certainly had its share of financial woes in past years, the fact that Pub has been able to pull itself out of the red and actually turn a profit indicates progress. Administration should meet this progress with a willingness to negotiate a plan for the future rather than the hard-line debt collector stance it seems to have assumed instead.
Ultimately the recent financial strides indicate that Pub does have the potential to pay back its debt - with time. The administration's desire to receive its payments is understandable as Pub has been in debt for an extended period; however, now that Pub seems to have reversed its dismal financial record, it would be a disservice to Pub and to the Rice community to demand the sizeable debt begin to be repaid in a matter of mere months.
The administration should have an interest in preserving this historically student-run business. In general, student-run businesses provide learning experiences and foster entrepreneurship: Pub is great for the undergraduate social scene, and it is also academically relevant. It helps innovative students learn about how enterprises function in the real world. This week, Rice was ranked seventh in the country for entrepreneurship on Unigo; to close down Pub would be a major blow to the atmosphere of student enterprise that has been steadily growing for the past few years.
The closing of Pub would also make a less safe environment for students to consume alcohol. Students will opt for off-campus alternatives that might lead to dangerous consequences.
While the administration should recognize its incentive not to write Pub off, Pub certainly needs to sustain this profitable business plan and maintain its current financial trend. Pub needs to prioritize paying off this debt over a period of time; however, December is too soon for Pub to utilize its new model in order to save enough money to begin satisfying its debts.
Pub is not just a bar or a Thursday night gathering spot, it is a hallmark of Rice. In under a month students, alumni and administration will celebrate 100 years of this university. We will reflect on everything that makes this place as special as it is and we will take great pride in the unique culture of this school.
In the face of this centennial, to consider shutting down a quintessentially Rice fixture and to eliminate such an important student run business is a disgrace. The celebration of this university should not be limited to the centennial long weekend, but should be carried out each and every day in the form of respecting and supporting those facets of Rice that make it great.
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