A 21 year old at Pizza Pi
Nicole Simon | Thursday, October 17, 2019
Since the beginning of junior year, I’ve reached the milestone nearly every college kid eagerly anticipates: turning 21. Finally, the world of adulthood is at my fingertips, freedom is upon me and I no longer have to wonder what the inside of Newfs looks like. But more than the various bars of South Bend, what I was undoubtedly most excited about upon turning 21 was enjoying an alcoholic beverage at Pizza Pi.
I decided to embark on my adventure last Friday evening. I brought two friends for the occasion, one who is also 21 and one who is not. I eagerly entered the restaurant for the first time, instantly impressed by the space that used to house Reckers. The newly-renovated area has the same modernized feel of Duncan, featuring cool blue decor and eclectic light fixtures. There’s quite a lot of space and a variety of seating spaces that make the space almost look like a real restaurant.
My excitement was soon halted, however, by the harsh division between the bar and the rest of the dining area. There’s a large sign at the entrance to the bar saying no one under the age of 21 is allowed to enter and no alcohol is allowed outside of the bar. My friends and I stood there for a few minutes trying to decide what to do, for it seemed our underage companion would not able to join us. However, since the restaurant was empty save for a few people, we thought we might as well ask if could bring our beverages to the main seating area to enjoy the company of our younger friend. The bartender, however, upheld the rules on the sign and my underage friend sadly went back to our dorm.
Not to be discouraged by the devastating loss, my fellow of-age friend and I sat down and mulled over the extensive seven-drink menu. There are four wines — $9 and $14 options of both red and white; the menu also has three beers, ranging from $4 to $6 per pint. We ordered the cheaper wines, and while I’m no expert, I’d say it was just OK. We sat there alone at the bar and chatted about SYR themes while we sipped. We paid — not with flex points, which are not allowed at the bar — and left, slightly questioning our life decisions.
Overall, it was an enjoyable experience. It was somewhat comical and a little uncomfortable, but it was nice to enjoy a conversation with a friend on a Friday evening. But while it was enjoyable, it was fundamentally different from any off-campus drinking experience I’ve ever had.
I’m not sure what kind of experience Pizza Pi is attempting to offer, and I commend the University for trying to provide upperclassmen a place to drink on campus. However, I don’t think Pizza Pi will ever be an incentive for students to choose to live on campus if that is what their hope is. Upperclassmen don’t move off campus because they want to drink; they move off campus simply because they want to live off campus. I think the University should accept that instead of attempting to recreate off-campus experiences in the back of South Dining Hall. Pizza Pi, in my opinion, is a testament to the University’s sincere attempt to make on-campus living more desirable for older students. While it is a step in the right direction, it’s not enough.
If they want students to choose to live on campus, they need to give us what we actually want, and not what they think we want. I’ve never heard anyone cite a lack of on-campus drinking options as a reason for moving off senior year. Instead, we want cheaper options, bigger rooms, equal amenities and more freedom. Until the University delivers on that, students will continue wanting to live off campus, and nothing will change that — especially not requiring them to stay.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.