DUT CAMPUS BAR COULD REOPEN
By: Sinenhlanhla Mthembu
Talks are underway to re-open a popular student bar and hangout at DUT’s Steve Biko Campus.
According to SRC president Ayanda Ngidi, the bar, formerly known as The Arms shut down in 2004 – could reopen at the campus’s sports centre.
“Students need some form of entertainment. There are a lot of universities that have their very own student villages aimed to serve as hangout spots for students,” Ngidi said.
However, DUT management denied this.
Special Advisor to Vice Chancellor, Dr Gops Chetty, said: “The intention was to revert to the original purpose, that is a staff dinning facility with some limited service provided for students. The dining facility has not got of the ground to date and now the facility is reverting back to the Sports Department to use. There is no plan for that space to be used as a Sports Bar for now.”
Should the bar reopen, it is likely to raise the hackles of many who were delighted that The Arms had been closed.
One of these is former SRC president Thami Shezi, who said The Arms was initially shut down because it was a case of students’ “book allowance (being) turned into a booze allowance”.
“We decided to close the bar because students started to hang there even during school hours. We figured that students started misusing funds given by NSFAS,” said Shezi, who chaired the Student Parliament and SASCO at the time.
“As a student organisation, we were fighting social ills. Closing the bar was one of the good steps,” Shezi said.
The shutting down of the bar took two years, starting in 2002. It eventually closed its doors at the end of 2004.
When The Arms was still open, students on financial aid were allowed to swipe their cards for food and alcohol. The bar was a student village and an entertainment center for all the institute’s students. It was purely for drinking purposes for some, while it served as an unwinding area for others.
“I didn’t do much drinking there,” said Monwabisi Langa, a civil engineer who studied at DUT. “I was drawn to The Arms because of the pool tables that were there.”
Less than a year after The Arms was closed, DUT leased out one of its buildings to a private company. The company opened a restaurant called Papa Joes, which is predominantly frequented by students. Shezi said he couldn’t understand why a bar was allowed to open just a few hundred metres from where the on-campus bar had been located, given that the shutdown of The Arms was to prevent students spending their study allowances on alcohol.
“We were very confused and questioned why is it that when we decide to close The Arms, the institute decided to lease out one of its own buildings to a private owner that pursued it for the very same reasons we shut down The Arms for,” he said.
Responding to concerns about having alcohol sold on campus, Ngidi said it will be closely monitored, particularly during school hours.
“There should be some alcohol policy. This will rule all operational times,” Ngidi said.