Commentary | Admin, why dost thou quash student initiative so?

Dear McGill Administrators, 
It has just been brought to my attention that the Arch Café, one of the best-run and most-loved student cafeterias on the McGill campus, is AGAIN at risk of being closed down. I am shocked and dismayed to see that this has become a recurring issue. I thought this problem was put to rest a few years ago when I was a McGill student. If the attempt is to simply hit on a year of apathetic students to push this through, I doubt you will be successful any time soon.

I realize that we have entered a world where education is big business, so it may be best to present this issue in business terms. As they are the University’s principal source of income, I doubt it makes good business sense to alienate students and alumni to satisfy the interests of your cafeteria provider. Let us make no bones about this decision; quiet study spaces are available all over campus; one more or less in the MacDonald-Harrington building is not the main objective here.

Not only does Chartwells provide food that is unhealthy, expensive, and unappetizing, but it has a stranglehold on food provision at McGill, which I for one would be glad to see challenged by much more than a small café in the basement of the Architecture building. The Arch Café never was and never will be any competition to Chartwells. However, it is a great student-run enterprise that not only provides affordable, nutritious food, but also fosters entrepreneurial and community spirit and student ownership.

Shouldn’t McGIll, with the importance it places on its reputation as a front-runner in education, be encouraging initiatives such as the Arch Café? Or is McGill no longer interested in turning out dynamic, successful professionals who will in the future have both the ability and interest in supporting the University? I know that a McGill that makes this statement against personal choice and independent enterprise is not something I wish to support in the future. 

Claire Frost
Master of Urban Planning 2007