The Midnight Kitchen (MK), in cooperation with SSMU clubs and services, has opened a student lounge area in Shatner’s room 302. The lounge will be open weekdays from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., except on Fridays. MK currently serves out of the room Monday to Thursday.
The decision by MK to expand their services to the supervision of a student space was introduced in conjunction with their upcoming fee increase referendum. MK is proposing to increase their levy by $1 per semester, amounting to $4.50 per year.
Student levies are required to be renewed via student referendums every three years. Carol Fraser, MK’s volunteer coordinator and a candidate for SSMU VP Clubs and Services, said, “We are always just operating within budget, but we have all these ideas to expand.”
Besides investing in the lounge space, Fraser said the fee increase will contribute significantly to improving serving capacity, which is “mostly what we are interested in doing with the money.”
Another member of the collective, Alex Briggs, spoke to working with SSMU on the project.
“Hopefully  will be a more permanent space next year. That requires working out with SSMU,” he said.
Both Fraser and Briggs stated their desire for 302 to fall further under the jurisdiction of MK, and to show that student initiatives can work and that they, according to Fraser, “provide a better alternative for students.”
SSMU’s position is that space in the Shatner building needs to remain as multi-purpose as possible. Anushay Khan, SSMU VP Clubs and Services, noted, “There is an increasing lack of space [on campus] as a whole.” She added that campus space is either being taken up by the administration’s needs or is being cut into by increasing enrolment.
“As a building manager for the Shatner building I am always faced with the issues of student space,” said Khan.
“Whether it is services wanting more space or clubs wanting more space, space is an issue because this is the only building on campus where we can really have our say and allocate it to our maximum ability.”
“It is really about the MK working with other groups,” Fraser said, “We still want it to be used by everybody else, in the spirit of multi-purposeness.”
Briggs stated that the closure of the Architecture Café in September has created a need for a new student space.
According to Fraser, the objective is to have a real cafe space offering an alternative model, where students can go without having to buy anything.
“This anti-capitalist idea [is] in line with what the MK is already – a space that doesn’t exist on campus that is for students to hang out,” she explained.
MK’s popularity with the student body, and their fee levy – which is independent of SSMU fees – have been helpful in moving the project forward.
“We have bargaining power,” Briggs said. “As the administration ramps up their pressure and pushes students’ rights out of the University, I think it is important that students organize around the institutions that we have left and do have control over – such as the kitchen.”
Some other ideas brought forward for MK’s operations expansion include the possibility of a breakfast service and permanent tables for student bake sales. Briggs also mentioned ideas of purchasing a sound system for music, poetry readings or shows, or the possibility of buying a projector for film screenings.