Under 21: Life in the designated driver's seat

By Nathan Tafoya
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Being under 21 has never been one of UA students' better excuses for staying sober, as evidenced by the 218 underage liquor violations handed out by the University of Arizona Police Department last year.

With the Mexican border and idea of hooking up with a sexy foreigner within tempting driving distance of the UA, the Summer Wildcat feels obligated to provide its underage readers with legal recreational alternatives.

Telling parents about a night at a strip club might be a little easier than telling them about an arrest for underage drinking at a house party or waking up sore in a Mexican jail.

And it's totally easy to tell them about going to a bookstore (the kind without the pink neon lights in the window).

Ian Harwell, a pre-pharmacy junior, said he likes to check out new stuff when he goes into Borders, located in the Park Place mall.

"Usually I look for books, then go to the library and get them," Harwell said.

And leave it to educational sources to have jumpstarted his initial reading impulse.

"My psychology teacher really got me into reading, because we had to do some projects in that class and he offered to give me 100 extra points if I read the whole 'Don Quixote,'" said Harwell.

Borders appeals to the auditory inclinations of students as well.

Related links
Park Place Mall

Golf N' Stuff

Rocks and Ropes

Islamic Center of Tucson

"I like it because there's a large selection of music," said pre-business junior Stephanie Nishioka.

Near Park Place, at Golf N'Stuff, was 10-year-old Rebecca Popken, gripping a plastic steering wheel as she played Crazy Taxi in the arcade gallery. A lot of computer-generated people were run over.

"I want to go to the UA and be a veterinarian and study animals and stuff," said Popken after the game.

This future student said she likes Golf N'Stuff for the miniature golf courses and the wide variety of video games.

When asked about how much fun an actual college student under 21 would have at Golf N'Stuff, she didn't hesitate.

"They'd have a lot of fun here," said Popken.

Bowling is also a nice way to kill time until the age of 21. Cave Park, a studio art junior, said he goes to Lucky Strike because he joined a bowling league, The Lousy Bowlers, early this summer.

"I was here all summer," Park explained. "I took pre-session but I didn't take session one and I got bored, so I decided to pick a hobby and go bowling."

In a big warehouse about five minutes from campus, spaghetti ropes hung from the ceiling and gave the impression of a disembowled edifice. The walls were gray and brown, littered with blunt, amorphous objects.

Rocks and Ropes, 330 S. Toole Ave., meets Tucson's indoor climbing needs with 8,000 square feet of climbing surfaces and climbing difficulty levels ranging from beginner to a 45-degree lead cave.

Ryan McCoy, a sociology freshman, said it was good practice for the outside climbing he does at Mount Lemmon.

Chris Pentland, a mechanical engineering junior, said he discovered the recreation a few months ago through friends.

"It's a great workout," said Pentland as he fed the safety line for a climber above him. "You meet a lot of nice people."

The Rocks and Ropes brochure states climbers of any age and ability are welcome to climb.

"You have to let go," Pentland called up to the climber who wanted to come down. "I'm not going to let you drop."

And unless they're cults, most spiritual activities and houses of worship don't have age limits. Meditation can be good for the religious student or soul searcher too.

After praying at the Islamic Center of Tucson near campus, Faisal Momen, an electrical and computer engineering graduate student, said it's important for students to keep up their religious faiths in college.

"One thing is that students come here and think their purpose is to study," said Momen. "But if they come to the mosque, they'll realize there's a bigger purpose for everybody. It's not just to come here and get your degree, get good grades. It teaches you there is a bigger purpose for your life. So even if you're not doing well in school, it's not so bad. It's not the end of the world."

The common denominator for all these activities is this: Whether it's a game of cards, a night of karaoke or filming a homemade movie, it's up to underage students to be creative about their college recreation.