Response to A Tale of Two ‘Sities

While I truly appreciate Alex Manley’s attempt to spread word about our current problems surrounding the closure of the Architecture Café in “A Tale of Two ‘sities,” I feel the need to comment on the gross oversimplification of this issue.

Manley failed to mention Concordia’s Café X, a student initiative far more similar to Arch Café than any other service mentioned. Besides being primarily a café and lounge space similar to Arch Café, Café X is also associated with a faculty association, also receives no fee levy and also pays no rent on their university-owned space.

Le Frigo Vert, on the other hand, does pay rent to a private landlord, and is therefore in a much less vulnerable position vis-à-vis the administration. It is vulnerable, however, to the student union through which they collect their fee levy—and I’d like to remind you that LFV had an enormous amount of difficulty even getting a fee levy increase question on the ballot last year, an increase which was subsequently denied by the student body.

I also feel that it is pertinent to mention that McGill also has a so-called “vegan eatery,” namely The Midnight Kitchen, which bears a strong resemblance to the People’s Potato. We also have a weekly farmers’ market and a CSA program run by a group called Organic Campus. The important distinction however, is that the Midnight Kitchen and Organic Campus operate within the student union, which offers a significant amount of protection from the university administration.

Furthermore, the tone of Manley’s editorial seems to encourage Concordia students to feel self-satisfied about their food options instead of learning from the situation at McGill and taking a critical look at the support (or lack thereof) that they offer their own student-run food outlets. We’re actually not nearly as different as Manley suggests, and propagating competition between McGill and Concordia misses the point of a student movement based on solidarity. At best, this tone is ill-advised since Concordia students are in no way invulnerable to this sort of problem and I’m sure you would like us to stand in solidarity with you should a similar situation arise.

So in conclusion, thanks for the free press, but the self-congratulatory and competitive tone of Manley’s editorial ignores more important similarities between the two campuses: the serious limitations on student independence and food sovereignty at both McGill and Concordia.

—Julia Wilk,
McGill University French Major

This article originally appeared in The Link Volume 31, Issue 07, published September 28, 2010.

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