Interest percolates for library coffee shop

Ryan Yoannou, deputy returning officer and Kingsley Chak, undergraduate trustee, rush back to the AMS offices to count ballots from the winter election and referendum last Wednesday.
Ryan Yoannou, deputy returning officer and Kingsley Chak, undergraduate trustee, rush back to the AMS offices to count ballots from the winter election and referendum last Wednesday.

Students feeling imprisoned in the library this week may perk up—literally—after hearing the results of the plebiscite questions voted on in conjunction with last week’s winter referendum.

The two non-binding questions posed to students were about installing a coffee shop in Stauffer Library.

The first of the plebiscite questions asked whether students would support the current proposal for the installation of a gourmet coffee shop in the foyer of Stauffer Library. About 66.85 per cent of students voted in favour of the idea, while 30.46 per cent voted against the idea, with 2.96 per cent of ballots were spoiled.

The other plebiscite question, regarding whether students would support a gourmet coffee shop in Stauffer owned and operated by a University-contracted food provider, currently Sodexho, didn’t pass. Only 34.04 per cent voted in favour of the idea, while 63.21 percent voted against it with 2.76 per cent spoiled.

AMS President Ethan Rabidoux said the results speak for themselves.

“Students have indicated that they don’t want Sodexho to run [a coffee shop in the library],” he said.

Julie Hirst, AMS food and entertainment director, said the results were expected.

“There seems to be a general dislike for Sodexho [on campus],” she said. “The results will give us more pull with the Board of Trustees and administration.”

Hirst said the future of the project is in the hands of the AMS executive-in-waiting, Team MBT.

“Really it will become MBT’s project to work on,” she said, adding that she planned to discuss current options, such as a student-run coffee shop, with the team.

“They would have to decide whether [a student-run coffee shop] is even financially viable,” Hirst said. “Getting a student-run coffee shop would be a battle, especially since it is outside the student centre.”

Rabidoux said the idea for the gourmet coffee shop is still in its early stages.

“It is something that has been considered for many years,” he said. “It is still in the works, but it is not going to happen tomorrow.”

Rabidoux added he was happy about the outcome of the AMS winter referendum, in which all 31 binding questions passed.

“None of the fees failed,” he said. “So, I guess that is good news. I think it went very well.”

Overall voter turnout was 30.95 per cent, with 4,392 students of a possible 13,594 students voting.

Referendum questions were posed by a variety of groups and organizations on campus, from the Queen’s Red Cross Club to the Sexual Assault Crisis Centre.

Two familiar groups appeared on the ballot this time around. Both the questions posed by the Union Gallery and the SAE Mini Baja Design Team passed, although both had failed in the fall referendum with different questions.

Andrew Weaver, Sci ’06 and project manager for the SAE Mini Baja Design Team, said he was happy about the continuation of the $0.25 student opt-out fee.

“It is amazing,” he said. “We tried to run for an increase last semester, but we were voted down.”

Weaver said the AMS allowed the team to run again for a continuation of the fee, which passed.

The fee passed with 59.29 per cent in favour and 38.05 per cent against, with 2.66 per cent of the ballots spoiled.

“One of the major contributions to the team is the student opt-out fee,” he said. “I am very happy that it passed.”

Weaver said he felt the fee was passed this time because of greater team involvement.

“This time around we did go out and campaign. We do have a small team, so it is hard to get the word out,” he said. “We really need to educate students about what we do.”

The SAE Mini Baja Design Team is a student-run design team that builds a small off-road vehicle from scratch each year and competes in three competitions, Weaver said.

He added that their next competition will be on April 10 at Auburn University in Alabama.

The Union Gallery, a student-run gallery that opened in 1994 and is located in the first floor of Stauffer Library, asked for a continuation of their $1.50 student fee.

The fee passed with 62.84 per cent in favour and 34.56 per cent against, with 2.6 per cent spoiled.

In the previous referendum, the fee increase for Union Gallery failed by less than one per cent.

The Union Gallery could not be reached for comment.

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