By Neil Taylor
I read the article by Cecelia Roeder in this week’s Preface and felt that I had to comment. I think one line in particular summed up the disconnect … “The Grill should not be a for profit restaurant”. This is a college so most of the “customers” here are too young and not nearly jaded enough to realize that EVERYTHING is For Profit. Well I’m not only old and jaded enough, but I’m a foreigner so I’m not blinded by cultural expectations (so much) either.
Everything is for-profit. Even non-profit-corporations, like universities, are for profit. They merely hide that profit in different ways; prestige, a name on a beautiful building, profit for a friend or relative doing business, grandstanding for votes, preening for government cash, growing a reputation – personal or corporate. It’s all ways that profit can be defined and it explains all the, sometimes very, very dumb, decisions that surround university life.
How much thought went into that back door to the Library? Handy for people living on campus, yes, but too expensive to staff so that students can use it. And how about that new Grill design; a nice pretty frosted glass door, designed in, making the serving area into an efficient U shape, but far too risky to let students use it. They might steal some of the overpriced food and reduce profits. And the new function rooms attached: handy for office staff functions, who cares that it eliminated the only free study area near a food outlet. How much thought went into that Student Center program for searching for classes? Certainly no serious thought about what students need, it’s just a cheap way to get something adequate installed without putting too much thought into anything except money.
One way or another EVERYTHING about college life is about maximizing profit. If you want to get the Grill to open more hours or sell cheaper food, or sell better quality food, you need to find a way to persuade university management that their “profit”, however THEY define what that is, will be improved. So maybe nipping down the road for a Blimpie or a Subway, or even one of the other openly for-profit restaurants within 10 minutes walk of campus might be a way to start doing that.
It would get you a regular ten minute walk, too. Pity you can’t use that to satisfy your “health” required class; but once again, see above.