Instead of scrambling to get to Weshop before midnight or cursing Pi Café’s 9 p.m. closing time, exasperated students may soon have another option. A student run-café with tea and coffee is tentatively set to open after spring break on the lower level of the Allbritton Center.
“After examining the social spaces on campus, I realized we needed to create more late night options, ” said Micah Feiring ’11, a member of the Student Affairs Committee (SAC) of the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA). “The space at the bottom of Allbritton was built to be a café when Davenport was remodelled so start-up costs would be minimal.”
While the original plans for the space included a café similar to Pi, Feiring’s vision for a café run by a student worker has provided an affordable alternative.
“The University was concerned about the costs of starting a full-time café in Allbritton that would be staffed,” said Dean of the Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Programs J. Donald Moon, who chaired the faculty committee that helped draw up the plans for the remodelling of Davenport.
There are precedents for such an idea, most notably at Princeton University where the popular late night café Studio 34 offers a variety of food that students can purchase with Princeton’s equivalent of meal plan points. At the café in Allbritton, however, a policy of suggested donations will be instituted.
“There will likely be a suggested donation box for students who wish to contribute 25 to 50 cents,” said Feiring. “All donations will be used to cover the overhead costs of the tea and coffee. Other than that, the café is free.”
While the café is intended to offer a late-night alternative to the libraries and a place to spend a few quiet moments with friends or textbooks, Feiring hopes it will also offer other activities.
“We’re looking at opening the café four nights a week, tentatively from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sunday through Wednesday,” Feiring said. “Most nights will be devoted to a low-key environment where students can work or congregate for quiet conversation, and once a week we might hold a poetry reading or an open mic. The level of involvement and enthusiasm from students will determine the events held at the cafe.”
Feiring is also interested in displaying student artwork in the café, as well as providing a meeting space for student groups whose options are usually limited to the Usdan center. An outdoor patio space with wooden tables and chairs, seating roughly thirty people, could serve as a venue for student group meetings and performances.
“The plans for the café have to be approved by the committee made up of representatives from programs housed in Allbritton, and by Associate Vice President [for Facilities Joyce] Topshe,” Moon said.
Feiring said that he wants to involve the Allbritton faculty in the process of creating the café.
“The space will also be a resource to the faculty in the building who will be instrumental in determining the functioning of the café,” he said.
The WSA will fund many of the costs of the café including the furniture, certain capital items, and the student worker. The suggested donations are aimed at recovering the working costs of the café. Many logistical matters have yet to be finalized.
A name for the café has not yet been determined. Feiring requested that anyone with suggestions for names or student groups that are interested in using the space for their activities contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.