BY ANNE WOLFE, ASST. DIGITAL MEDIA EDITOR
Providing free alcohol to students may seem like the opposite of an environment that promotes safe drinking, but Susquehanna University’s student-run night club, Trax, has done so successfully for six years.
Susquehanna’s website boasts that Trax “features a dance floor, DJ booth, billiards area, bar, performance stage, high-tech lighting and an outdoor patio,” as well as having “many [events that] offer free snacks and drinks.”
Student Activities Coordinator, Beth Winger said that when Greek Life parties were shut down, parties were driven downtown, which caused problems with safety and the community.
Susquehanna’s current president L. Jay Lemons, among others, decided to spend $1.2 million to renovate the building now known as Trax.
Winger said, “Trax is a social place for students where they can come and relax.”
Winger, who has been involved with Trax since its inception in 2006, said that Trax’s policies are made to enforce safe drinking.
These policies include wristbands for those 21 and over that have tabs to ensure students only have one drink per hour, the right to refuse a drink to students who appear too intoxicated and the right to confiscate any alcohol brought into Trax, regardless of age.
Despite these policies, however, disciplinary action is not the top priority.
Winger said, “If we were the police, nobody would want to come.”
She said as far as Trax is concerned, the safety of the students involved in any incident is their top priority. They don’t want anyone to be afraid or worried about coming there.
Winger said that when students are overly intoxicated, Trax staff will help the student by getting them water and keeping them monitored until they are coherent and well enough to be taken back home by their friends.
“Students are really good with their friends,” Winger said about the willingness of students to help one another.
She said in all of her time there, the ambulance has only needed to be called once. However, this was for someone who was brought into Trax from an outside party by friends who knew they needed help, which, Winger said, is exactly the type of safety that they hope to promote.
Tom Rambo, asst. vice president for student life and director of public safety, confirmed this by saying that the number of times he’s been called to Trax “could be counted on one hand.”
Rambo said Trax holds “responsible events where people can stay on campus.”
He also stated that there is on-site security for any incidents, but not many arise.
One question that Winger said students ask frequently is about the potential to do away with tabs and free alcohol to allow students to purchase alcohol at whatever rate they please.
Winger said that the reason that this is not an option is the fact that in order to sell the alcohol, they would need to acquire a state liquor license, which would be incredibly expensive.
The alcohol at Trax is usually purchased at Keller’s Beer by Winger herself.
Winger said there is a general food budget, and the funds for alcohol are factored into it. She did not have exact figures, but she estimated that the budget has risen from about $700 when Trax first opened to about $3,000 today.
Winger said that she chooses the alcohol to try to give students different things to taste as well as keeping staples that students enjoy, like Yuengling. She said she tries to keep a light beer and specialty beer on tap for events as well as having white, red, and rosé wines.
According to Winger, alcohol that is not completely consumed is poured down the drain.