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Sober nightlife should be embraced in Clemson

David Ferrara, Editor-in-Chief

A bar in downtown Clemson

Clemson University, and the surrounding areas, should offer more activities besides alcohol-directed fun.
The majority of businesses, besides restaurants, around Clemson University are catered towards alcohol consumers, even though most students cannot legally drink. Bars are the hot spot on weekends for students, including those under 21.
Clemson has few late-night activities for underclassmen besides going to bars, so it is not surprising that many of them opt to hang out in these establishments.
On any given weekend night, downtown is full of students hopping from bar to bar, socializing with friends and drinking alcoholic beverages. In fact, downtown has at least 10 bars located between restaurants, merchandise shops and coffee houses.
However, what downtown and the area around campus lacks are non-alcohol-based activities for the student population under 21.
Most students enter college at the age of 18 and graduate at 22; meaning that most of the time Clemson students are enrolled here, they cannot legally drink alcohol.
So why are a majority of businesses downtown catered towards the consumption and purchase of alcohol, with the primary consumers being Clemson students?
These institutions have bouncers to check IDs, but profit from the fact that most students can successfully get away with underage drinking. In effect, minor in possession charges have been increasing consistently since 2018, as the University totaled 119 charges in 2021, according to the Clemson University Police Department 2021 Annual Report.
Clemson University has minimal alternatives for weekend fun, leaving many underclassmen to turn to underage drinking as an outlet for de-stressing and hanging with friends.
Notably, there are a couple of alternatives for alcohol-based fun, including U-NITES! events every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 7 p.m. to midnight and the Underground Recreation Center; however, these activities do not offer the same flexibility or atmosphere as downtown nightlife. Also, with a limited number of lanes and tables, the Underground Recreation Center is not an end-all solution.
Businesses should implement events like the Eras Night recently hosted by 356 Sushi and Bar with the Swift Society. This event allowed students aged 18+ to join in on the fun, as long as they come before a set time. Similarly, the same organization, the Swift Society, held a silent disco with TigerLive Entertainment earlier this semester which produced a great turnout and a sober atmosphere.
Events like these promote a fun, legal way for underclassmen to enjoy nightlife. These events are much more consistent with the environment of the downtown businesses as opposed to the U-NITES! events, which circulate more around trivia and crafts, and should be held more often.
The Clemson area would benefit from introducing more live music events or even dance clubs, which could include bars in the space, but would not be so alcohol-driven. This way, people under the age of 21 and people 21+ could legally enjoy the weekend nightlife.
An all-night coffee house or lounge would also be a great addition to downtown, allowing students to hang out as if they were in a bar, but not drinking alcoholic beverages.
Such integration should not necessarily fall on the University’s shoulders, but is definitely something that clubs, organizations and local businesses should consider when accounting for possible markets and consumers.
Kylie Tutterrow is the Asst. Outlook editor and an undecided major from Spartanburg, SC.

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