The Return of the Marist Bar?

Poughkeepsie, NY– Will the Rat Scaller return?  Yes, that was the name of the old bar that existed on campus until the drinking age rose to 19 in ’82 and eventually to 21 after the passage of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act by the United States Congress in ‘84.

However now rumors are swirling around campus that a potential new bar may be in the works. As of now, it seems only a “casual outlet” for drinking on campus will be built during the 2014-2015 academic year at Marist.

Every Student Government officials/ Marist administrator have explained that creating a permanent bar in the course of one school year is not a feasible task.

According to the Student Body President (SBP) Christos Pietris, “The bar would be an end stage to our initiative that we’re (Student Government and the MC Administration) doing right, right now were looking for an outlet for students to causally participate in drinking.”

Drinking at Marist sanctioned events. Photo by Bob Togneti

Drinking at Marist sanctioned events. Photo by Bob Togneti

He points out a permanent bar would require much more work to be done. According to the SBP Pietris, Dennis Murray, the President of Marist College, would have to get personally involved in the planning. Work on finding a permanent location would be necessary. Meaning all in all, it would take many years before an actual permanent bar could be established on campus.

Deborah DiCaprio, the Dean for Student Affairs, confirmed it would not be quick processes saying “There’s no place for a bar on campus. So it would have to get to the bottom of the list of a lot of other things that we need on campus.”

Fortunately, she did offer a temporary option for the bar. Marist has plenty experience at hosting drinking events. So if the “casual outlet” does happen, Marist can easily pull it off.

“We can host events on campus, where there would be alcohol which we have done historically,” DiCaprio says.

And historically that’s true, when Marist did have a bar on campus the wine and beer was provided by Sodexo, who has a liquor license, but needs to provide food at any such event. Also about 15 years ago, Marist had the 21 Society where the students would host events with alcohol and donate the revenue to Campus Ministry. Recently the MAA (Marist Alumni Association) has hosted events for future Alumni or Juniors 21 or older with alcohol to help build a connection with them. In other words, they are attempting to persuade future graduates to pick up their phones when the MAA are calling to ask for donations.

Any Obstacles?

As of now, there does not seem to be any major opposition to the idea of the temporary drinking outlet on campus for those. “To be honest, no one is opposed to something like this (Temporary drinking outlet), you may have a select few, but no one who can impede the execution of this,” SBP Christos says.

DiCaprio could not name any major opposition against the “casual outlet” for drinking.

Why now?

The Town of Poughkeepsie recently passed an ordinance referred to as the Nuisance Party Law. Chapter 144 of the law punishes anyone for disorderly conduct, public urination, unlawful possession or use of a controlled substance. Anyone violating the ordinance could pay from $250.00 to $5,000.00 based on how often the household has violated the law.  Students could also face jail time too.

The hopes of many of the Student Government officials is to keep students who have these off-campus parties on campus, so they would be safer and would not have to deal with the threats of fines or imprisonment.

Mark Soranno, The Director of Community Outreach, said, “By having a bar on campus, the hope is these 21 off- campus houses will be led more in a safer environment, so rather than hosting parties in their domicile, they would be going to this bar.”

The SBP Christos stressed how important this project is for the Marist Student Body. “The on-campus bar back in the day when it was here was a huge success. Students were very fond of it. Faculty were very fond of it. And people didn’t leave campus as much because they had something like that (The Rat Scaller bar). And our main goal is to keep students on campus and want to be here on campus.”

What will be at this temporary bar besides the obvious?

Besides the drinking many of the Student Government officials insisted the temporary drinking spot will have such events like wine tasting, beers from around the world, trivia and karaoke.

Many of them stressed the idea that these events would include faculty. One Ryan Kiggins, Resident Senator of Student Government, “I would like to see faculty and staff included, I know I’m supposed to represent students, but I feel like it would students the opportunity  to meet faculty and staff in a professional environment.”

Others mention how important it would be to connect with faculty and meet them in a personal level on campus. Also how it would teach students to drink because many students may not want to get “hammered”, while their professor is in the same room as them.

But, would professors attend? According to Kiggins, who has interviewed several faculty members from the Communications and Political science departments, all seem in favor of drinking with students. Yet, he did not disclose who or how many faculty members he interviewed.  Although it does sound like at least a few professor would be more than interested in attending the “casual outlet.”


As of now, according to the SBP Christos, the future bar may depend on the success the casual drinking outlet. “In the near future, hopefully if such demand is apparent and students are really appreciative of the concept, we would hope in years to come that a bar restaurant placed on campus that the students, staff and faculty can attend on multiple nights a week.”

As of now in the short-term future, a permanent bar seems as possible as a Pabst Blue Rubin tasting good. In the distant future? Maybe. Until then we (21+) will speak easily and carry a big flask.

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