Commentary | Closure affronts us, says one bummed alumnus

So McGill hires a prison caterer to take over our university’s food services. And it decides that the only student-run café on campus must be turfed. according to Morton J. Mendelson. After two years in the hands of the admin, the Architecture Café is just plain broke.

At a university that routinely hosts thousand dollar receptions (I know this from experience) this explanation rings hollow to me. In any case, we are dealing with an administration which needs no excuses. The University has a long history of taking over or shutting down student-run operations. In the 1990s, we had half a dozen student-run cafes on campus, overseen by various Faculty student associations. Of these, only the Arch Café remains.

But shutting down this last student-run café will be a big mistake. The Arch Café was crucial to my education at McGill, not simply because it provided high-quality, affordable, local or organic or fair-trade food and coffee. Every year I spent at McGill, we lost more and more student space – to research labs, professors’ offices, and the Administration’s conniving (for example, SACOMSS and Muslim students’ prayer space evictions).

As a student-built and student-run space, constantly filled with dynamic, interesting peers from across all disciplines, the Arch Café was one of the few remaining places on campus to have real conversations, academic and otherwise. Grad students have their offices, people looking for silent study have the libraries. But as an undergrad who actually wants to discuss and interpret and argue and inquire with your fellow students, where are you going to go? You need on-campus, amenable, inviting, social space. That’s exactly what the Arch Café provided. That’s precisely what we should fight to preserve.

Trevor Chow-Fraser
BA 2008, East Asian Studies and English


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