As a fresh McGill student several weeks ago, I heard that the Architecture Cafe was being shut down because the McGill administration claimed that it was financially unsustainable. My first thought was, “What is the Architecture Cafe?” My second thought was, “Crap! I have an assignment due tomorrow!” I forgot about this cafe business until a week later, when I heard a bit more about the issue. The Architecture cafe was 17 years old, and the last student run cafe on campus. Though I’m not clear on all the details (after all, I only just got involved with the issue,) here’s what I know.
The Arch cafe was the last student run cafeteria on McGill campus before it was shut down. Several years ago, McGill Food Services took over the cafe’s operation, and this year the University is claiming that the cafe is no longer sustainable. Despite reports to the contrary from the student body president that the cafe was actually making money, the administration won’t revisit, or apparently even discuss the issue. The cafe’s management weren’t even allowed to see the cafe’s books while it was running, so how were they supposed to correct any financial problems? The closing coincided with Aramark, a food services company, taking over McGill’s food services contract, which seems a bit suspicious. It’s also curious how quickly this issue is being swept under the rug by the McGill administration. Morton Mendelson, the Deputy Provost of Student Life and Learning at McGill, said “The administration is not willing to revisit this issue,” according to the Montreal Gazette. According to the McGill website, the Deputy Provost of Student Life and Learning is a “central liaison among the University’s senior administration, faculties, student organizations and Senate, with a view to ensuring that impact on student life and learning is factored into decision-making.” Seems like there isn’t much factoring in of student life going on with this issue, especially with the high prices and low quality of the food at the other McGill cafeterias.
Really McGill? Really?! Don’t be evil. I just got here, I don’t want to hate you. Let’s talk about this and figure out how to make the Architecture Cafe “financially sustainable,” huh? What do you have to lose? On the other hand, keeping us in the dark about why you’re closing the Arch Cafe, not providing us with any details, and hoping that we just go away isn’t going to make anyone happy. And we’re engineers; we can be loud, especially when we’re unhappy.
If you’re a McGill student who is unhappy about the closing of the Arch Cafe, here are some things you can do:
- Tweet! Blog! Write a clever status message about the Arch Cafe! Let’s make that social media work for us!
- Join the Facebook Group(1,522 members, as of this writing)
- Get informed! Ignorance is not bliss, it’s just a good way to get screwed over.
- Tell McGill (articulately and politely) that you’re angry and disappointed! Find out how at the end in this article: http://mcgilldaily.com/articles/32590.
- Boycott McGill Food Services (click here to join the Facebook Group 2,134 attending as of this writing.)
- Buy a Vuvuzella and keep it on hand in case there’s another protest (I intend to do this.)
- A good summary of what’s going on: http://mcgilldaily.com/articles/32609
- The Montreal Gazette article: http://www.montrealgazette.com/Students+fight+McGill+closure+Architecture+Cafe/3570438/story.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
- An Article in MacLean’s: http://oncampus.macleans.ca/education/2010/09/24/students-furious-over-closing-of-mcgill-cafe/
- Another McGill Daily article with things you can do about the issue: http://mcgilldaily.com/articles/32590