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Editorial: Our Last Chip

Saying no is what put student voices on the committee to renegotiate Sodexo’s contract in 2013. Our boycott was the students’ leverage. If students approve this vote, it’s done. The period of change is over.

This is not a possibility the students’ union finds likely. And why should it? The school needs access to food services for the students. While Zona Roberts’s friendly face drew many of us to the Wardroom at lunch, we’ve all heard that the Oxford college style depends on common spaces for learning, praying and eating. Lectures are important, but the life of the college is in the spaces in between—between classes, between lecture and home, between friends. We’ve lost that important aspect of college life to the LSC and the Subway down the street. The KSU understands this; they’ve been working tirelessly to correct this wrong since the September boycott created it.
Now the question is: how to fill the void? This week, the union presents students with the option they (and we, through consultation with members of the food advocacy committee) have selected, in our best interest. The food will be ethical, the counter staffed by students. The students will finally have a foothold in the previously Sodexo-monopolized food landscape at King’s. This is a good thing. But at what cost?
When the administration presented the $75,000 fee, the food advocacy committee held a town hall meeting in which they told students that this number was “ridiculous.” They countered at a fraction of the cost. But the number hasn’t budged.
This means that the upfront cost of the canteen, one that will not make money for some years, if ever, will be over $100,000. To pay it, we must fork over our cash reserves, built up over the years by generations of King’s students. And if that prospect is not worrying enough, voting ‘yes’ to this canteen will mean that we give up our last bargaining chip.
Saying no.
Saying no is what got the union this foothold; it is what put student voices on the committee to renegotiate Sodexo’s contract in 2013. Our boycott was the students’ leverage. If students approve this vote, it’s done. The period of change is over. We no longer have the option to say “This is too expensive” or “We deserve a better deal” and back out. We’re locked in. And the KSU, and our money, is on the hook.
Is this best deal for students?
It is the students’ duty to ask this question. The union’s discussion on Tuesday night will present one side. The union has lined up its own speakers but not any to speak against; students will have to cover that on their own. This question deserves a hard look. We can’t afford to rubber stamp this.
*If you have missed any of our stories about the canteen in the past you can check them out here, here, here, and here.

By David J. Shuman

David is a second-year journalism student at King's, is engagement/news editor of The Watch, and a copy editor of The Pigeon. He writes on student politics, campus happenings, and school news. 

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