At first glance, the presence of an 18-plus on-campus bar at a school that has a zero-tolerance underage drinking policy seems contradictory. Yet Traditions Bar & Grill, USC’s historic watering hole, has gone to great lengths to prevent on-site underage drinking while ensuring that all students have a fun, safe place to hang out without having to leaving the confines of the campus.
Traddies, as it’s affectionately called by students, faculty and alumni, has a new look to go along with its new location in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center. The combination of bar and general lounge area makes it a perfect spot to spend time with friends and meet new people, whether at a concert or during a game of pool.
The fact that students over the age of 18 — but under the legal drinking age — are allowed into the bar has sparked conversation across campus. Traddies never previously allowed underage students access to the venue, and clearly the alcohol policy has not changed. Department of Public Safety officers line the entrance to the bar and check IDs, and with proof of 21-plus identification, you are rewarded with a wristband. This wristband does well in identifying who is allowed to drink, and if that wasn’t enough, more security officers inside keep a watchful eye on the patrons.
The extent of the security on the premises is the main reason why Traddies is right to accommodate underage students. By denying them, the school would be denying those students a concert venue, pool hall and place to eat. Consumption of alcohol is far from the only attribute of the revamped Traddies.
Doubters claim that, once inside, students will inevitably find ways of obtaining alcohol. There is strict security at almost every stop outside Traditions, however, and the security within makes it difficult to exchange wristbands. When I walked into Traddies on a Saturday night and took a step toward the bar to check out the televisions and seating area, a security guard immediately instructed me to head toward the other side of the venue and away from the bar. Once students get a good look at the tight security, they probably won’t even bother trying to get alcohol. A huge deterrent, on top of the security, is the sanctions that could be imposed on students caught with alcohol in Traddies — the most severe of which is expulsion from the university. If an underage student was looking to get drunk, I doubt he would go to an on-campus bar and risk buying alcohol right in front of DPS.
Skeptics also insist the heightened security at Traddies will force underage students to go to liquor stores or other bars in supposedly dangerous areas for an opportunity to drink. But Traddies in fact provides an alternative to off-campus bars, by giving students a great place to relax and pass the time in a safe environment — even if they can’t drink.
Let’s face it: Students are going to find ways to drink, whether on university premises or not. A zero-tolerance policy can only do so much and alcohol-related incidents are not uncommon. But the student body is intelligent enough to recognize the strict security at Traddies and know this isn’t the place to drink if you are underage.
Cyrus Behzadi is a freshman majoring in communications.