AMS executive candidates disagree on changes to services

Teams WRL and SMH discuss the future of Common Ground and The Underground

From left to right: Phillip Lloyd, Allison Williams and Justin Reekie.
From left to right: Phillip Lloyd, Allison Williams and Justin Reekie.
Team SMH.
Team SMH.

The teams running in the AMS executive elections disagree on what changes they see coming for AMS services.

Team SMH, consisting of presidential candidate Scott Mason, vice-president (operations) candidate Mark Asfar and vice-president (university affairs) candidate Hasina Daya, said that they are disappointed with the way The Underground was developed by the current executive.

Asfar, ArtSci ’14, said he agrees with why the decision to rebrand was made, but he was disappointed with the way the it was handled.

“We think a huge mistake was made with The Underground when students weren’t consulted,” he said. “It was changed without their consent, and without any notification.” If elected, SMH said they would spend the summer creating a survey to get a feel for what students want concerning The Underground, Asfar added.

“Our plan for The Underground is to make it the students’ nightclub again,” he said. “We’re going to ask students what they like.”

Asfar said the team plans to ask if students would enjoy live bands, costume parties and speed dating.

“We’re not just going to keep running Throwback until people get tired of it,” he said.

Team SMH is also avocating for more variety of food options for students to order at Common Ground. They plan to introduce gluten-free, kosher, halal, lactose-free and nut–free options for students.

Asfar added that Common Ground has the space necessary to cater to these changes, as they would separate all the items, such as dairy and meat for kosher items.

He said students wouldn’t have to pay more for these options.

“I don’t think it’s acceptable to charge students extra because of health or religious beliefs,” he said.

SMH said that the changes would just take extra time to train employees.

Asfar said the idea could affect Common Ground’s good financial record, but it’s worth the risk.

“We are okay with offering these products at little to no profit margin if it makes it an accessible service to everyone,” he said.

Team SMH said that Common Ground should provide these options in order to provide better accessibility to services for all students.

“Making that inclusive space is going to be a draw for students,” Daya, ArtSci’14 said. “Catering to a halal diet is really easy … the Lazy Scholar does it, so does Leonard Cafeteria.”

According to Team WRL, the changes to The Underground are ongoing, and they have no plans to implement massive changes to the nightclub if elected.

Justin Reekie, ArtSci’13, and vice-president (operations) candidate, said there has been constant communication with students thus far, and changes have been made this year.

“Throwback was off the charts of what people wanted, and people did not want other themed nights,” Reekie, the current Hospitality and Safety Services Director, said.

The Underground, which falls under TAPS management, is currently within Reekie’s portfolio.

He said it was recommended by the Retail Operations Officer that significant changes should be withheld for another two years.

“At that point, everyone who knew of the change from Alfie’s to The Underground is now gone from the University, so it’s a new selection of people,” Reekie said.

“So you need to leave it, you need to let it grow because you need to think of this as a new service.”

The teams also disagreed about feasible changes for Common Ground and the Brew.

Reekie said that SMH’s plan to introduce nut-free, lactose-free, gluten-free, halal and kosher options couldn’t be accomplished with the current environment at Common Ground.

WRL’s platform contains plans to introduce gluten-free options at The Brew, but not at Common Ground, as the campus coffee shop doesn’t have the space.

“The way that we operate right now, [gluten-free] is the easiest to implement, with essentially no cost,” he said.

Reekie emphasized that the space at Common Ground doesn’t allow for the separation of ingredients and utensils required to accommodate many options.

“We don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, and there’s too many moving parts to guarantee it,” he said. “At Common Ground, even if something is nut-free, we have no guarantee that it hasn’t been contaminated.”

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