The upcoming Special General Meeting (SGM), to be held tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. in the West Gym, lists on its agenda the possible removal of the SFSS Food and Beverage Services (FBS). Unbeknownst to many students, this would mean the closure of The Ladle, Higher Grounds Coffee Shop, catering services, and, arguably the most impactful aspect, the Highland Pub.
I feel that the reasoning behind this motion has to do with the amount of debt the SFSS is in. Those behind the motion to close the doors on these food services are only focusing on the fact that the food and beverage services currently run a deficit.
One can speculate that halting the accumulation of debt from FBS is needed before Build SFU’s construction projects can move forward, as I suspect this debt may be blocking the SFSS from receiving further loans needed to put Build SFU into motion.
The Highland Pub — where I’m currently employed — has been on campus for nearly 5 decades. As the go-to place to hold events and fundraisers on campus, not to mention the only affordable place to have a decent meal with a pint of beer, the Highland is an institution among the SFU community. Its closure would be a serious detriment to campus social life and to the university community as a whole.
The idea that SFU lacks community within the student body is common around campus, and has made its way into our institution’s reputation. Few places on campus allow for students to meet new people and socialize, and the Highland Pub is the only place that constantly encourages students, faculty and staff to bond over a drink. The Pub is a safe haven free from the hierarchies that plague other areas of the university.
Alongside the social benefits associated with the only pub on campus, SFSS Food Services all provide reliable, flexible employment for students.
Boundaries between professor and students break down over a pitcher of beer. Grad students meet other grad students during organized orientation events. Residence and international students flock here for cheap wings and live DJs long into the night on Wings Wednesday. Relationships between students in all faculties develop and flourish, and the proposed motion for the upcoming Special General Meeting would mean the end to all of this.
With the knowledge that these food services provide an invaluable space for students, there is irony in the fact that the SFSS would like to close these spaces only to build new ones — a rather pointless prospect.
Alongside the social benefits associated with being the only pub on campus, the Pub and other SFSS food services all provide reliable, flexible employment for students. They also provide quality food and beverages, and lead the movement for fair trade options on campus. These services benefit more people than any other provided by the SFSS — a fact that must be considered for the vote at the SGM.
The SFSS FBS is an integral part of the SFU community. SFU would not be the same place without the continuing legacy of the Highland Pub. I urge students to come out to the SGM and support this legacy, and the role it plays in social life on campus. Our food services have become an institution, their closure would mark the end of an era at SFU.