| This is my beef

A response, partly in dramatic form

“Life,” a bad play by an incompetent writer:
Kim: OMG Cassie! You are like so totally cool!
Cassie: OMG Kim! I am so totally cool! Kim, you have to, like, vote for me in the student council elections! All the girls are voting for me! We have to beat the guy candidate! And my policies are totally awesome!
Kim: Your policies are like so totally awesome! [Pause.] What are they?
Cassie: Dunno, like more funding for cheer leading, duh Kim, you’re such a dung-head!
Kim: You’re so right, Cassie! I so totally am!
Cassie: If you think for yourself, you’ll realize that my policies are the best. Like, thinking for yourself is so undervalued in our society!
Kim: Yeah, I totally agree! OMG you’re so smart, Cassie!
Cassie: I know.

[Exeunt. Enter family men Tim and Harry.]
Tim: Dude, Harry! You’re so totally cool, dude!
Harry: Dude, Tim! I am totally cool! Tim, vote Republican in the election! The whole neighbourhood’s doing it! Their policies are über-sweet!
Tim: Totally! [Pause.] What are their policies?
Harry: Like tax breaks for random companies and financing doomed wars, duh Tim, you’re such a dung-head! Try thinking for yourself! Like, thinking for yourself is so undervalued in our society!
Tim: Yeah, I totally agree!
[Exeunt. Scene: University. Enter X and Y.]
X: Hey, Y! You’re so awesome!
Y: Hey, X! I so totally am! X, you totally have to shout abuse at Morton Mendelson and protest against the Arch Café closure!

You see where I’m going. Obviously the above was to lighten the mood, not to mock. I was asked in a letter in the last Daily (“Where’s the beef, Sam Baker?,” Letters, October 7) to explain a point I’d made about Architecture Café, so here goes.

First, clarification: my letter criticized methodology – not substance. People were coming to conclusions without appropriate justification; I was simply advising caution. As for finances: no, the admin didn’t give us a financial report; yes, it’s fishy.

Mendelson testified to the Senate that the Café lost over $15,000 last year. But do you really think he’s going to lie in his official capacity? That’s a big accusation. Even if the figure were inexact, that wouldn’t mean Mendelson invented a whole trend.

I mean, he has a reputation to keep; if you were a senior official of an internationally-renowned university, would you risk your professional credibility for the sake of a café? And is it really unimaginable that a venture with food that was both cheaply priced and fair-trade (inherent contradiction, methinks) should have made a loss?
But if I’m wrong, I’ll happily admit it. I was wrong when I implied the financial details had been released; I may be wrong again. Admin, give them us, so we can know.

Right, little pet peeve: As I tried to show in my little sketch, people are often tempted to adopt the views of a group they belong to. Transcend these stupid party lines, don’t just scream wildly. This applies outside politics, too, and was my major objection to the responses I read to the Café’s closure. There was a lot of mindless complaining but little thought.

As for substantive arguments, we’re told: 1. The Café was unique (good point, but at what cost?), and 2. This is a big war against the admin. Is it? If that’s so, make it clear to everyone that if we keep the Café, we’ll be subsidizing your ideological skirmish, not a café.

I know, I’m throwing about the term “subsidizing.” Because it’s crucial, the one thing that makes this not a no-brainer. The extra space argument is stupid. So admin, release the budget. Otherwise we’ll write bad play scripts mocking you too.


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