Campus coffee shop campaign underway

ReAnne Utemark

Washburn students are getting a buzz.

With finals week approaching, the coffee shop campaign by the Washburn Student Government Association is in full swing. There have been two faux coffee shops hosted in Stauffer Commons by WSGA, Chartwells and the Campus Activities Board. There is another evening planned 8 to 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6 in Stauffer Commons. Also, during finals week, Mabee Library will be open 24 hours a day starting Dec. 10 until Dec. 15. WSGA will provide coffee, tea and hot chocolate around the clock, and will provide food from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.

All of these events have been in an effort to gather data with the possibility of creating a proposal for a permanent coffee shop on campus.

Lacey Keller, WSGA special events director, has been one of the leaders on the project.

“It’s really exciting because people are coming out during busy times,” said Keller. “When people want something they’ll come and get it. You can tell people really want this or something like it.”

Keller said the library event was to see how many people would utilize the library during the hours it was usually closed, 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. She wants to build a base of support and then start building a proposal.

“It’s in [the students’] power,” said Keller. “If they show support, we’ll keep pushing. We could do a lot of things, but we’re working on taking baby steps. If finals week doesn’t go well, then it will end with finals week.”

There is a committee students can serve on that will start meeting during the spring semester if the finals week event goes well.

Gary Schmidt, interim dean of Mabee Library, is enthusiastic about the project.

“Our mission is to be user-centered,” said Schmidt. “We want to invite students to come to the library and for it to be a safe, secure place to learn. A coffee shop concept is a good one in today’s educational arena.”

Schmidt is also in support of putting the coffee shop in the library. He said it would be a great place to provide students with this service outside of Memorial Union. Schmidt understands that students can now do research at nearly anytime or place. He wants to draw students back to the library.

Schmidt also said he wanted it to be a place where students from different disciplines could meet and have discussions.

“It should be a place where you can sit down and strike up a conversation and suddenly there is a reason to have a cup of coffee,” said Schmidt.

Tom Ellis, special assistant to the university president, stresses the importance of having a good proposal. He also said building demand and support was an important part of the process.

“I think it’s always time to present a plan that is well thought out and viable,” said Ellis. “That is all it takes, that solid plan.”

Ellis discussed the important evaluation of long-lasting resonance. He also said those developing the presentation should weigh the benefits, opportunities, availability of resources, what it adds and what it consumes because everything else on campus has to balance out.

“If it isn’t self-sustaining, it becomes like a baby bird,” said Ellis. “It consumes resources. We want it to be able to take care of itself. They will have to figure out how many people buying how many drinks it will take to sustain [the coffee shop] . That is the definition of success.”