A spark of hope for reopening of Architecture Cafe

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After a week-long outcry from students, there appears to be a glimmer of hope for the Architecture Café, the popular eatery housed in the basement of the Macdonald-Harrington Building. Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Morton Mendelson surprised students when classes began this fall by announcing that the café, which closes each year for the summer, would stay shuttered for the foreseeable future. The café, Mendelson said, was losing too much money to remain under McGill Food and Dining Services, which operates the café in conjunction with an advisory group of architecture students. Those architecture students disputed this, saying that although the café was not raking in money, it was surviving in the black. Since then, students have come out in strong numbers against the closing of the Architecture Café. They have formed Facebook groups, written letters, and signed petitions to reopen the popular fair-trade café, which the administration announced it plans to turn into study space for students. Students’ Society President Zach Newburgh and Vice-President University Affairs Joshua Abaki met with Mendelson on Monday morning and presented a petition with 148 signatures from architecture students against the closing of the café. “Josh Abaki and I made a very strong case that we should be working together, that the university should have identified this challenges with the students of the university and we should have been working to produce a solution that was amicable to for Architecture Café, for the university, and for the students of this university,” Newburgh said. “As a result of seeing just how opposed the architecture students were,” Newburgh continued, “I think the Deputy Provost has decided to reconsider his decision, and hopefully in our favour.” Mendelson, however, had a differing view of this meeting. “I think [Newburgh is] overstating what I said,” Mendelson said in a subsequent interview. “I think the decision has been made. Right now, I see that the cafe has been closed and we’re not considering opening it at the moment.” In response, Newburgh asserted that Mendelson had, in fact, agreed to review the decision to close the café. “The Deputy Provost absolutely said [he would] reconsider this decision and he thanked us for doing the student consultation for bringing [the signatures] to him,” Newburgh said. “Later I confirmed with Josh to make sure I understood correctly outside of the meeting before I sent [this news] to the press and Josh confirmed exactly that-that he was reconsidering his decision. “The worst case scenario is that the Architecture Café will be closed, the best scenario is that there will be a student run food service on our campus in the Architecture Café,” added Newburgh. -Additional reporting by Maria Flores