Don’t get me wrong. McDaniel Hall is awesome.
But it’s not quite finished. One thing in particular it still lacks: a coffee shop.
Not a Seattle’s Best vending machine. A coffee shop.
The building’s renovation plan called for just such a shop on the first floor, something like the late
Jazzman’s in the SUB, a real coffee shop staffed by real people making real coffee.
That was the plan.
But instead of a coffee shop we got a vending machine, and that is not acceptable.
I’m not sure why we have a vending machine instead of a coffee shop. One hears rumors that it has something to do with Sodexo being a soulless global corporation that cares more for its own bottom line than the experience of our students or the welfare of its employees, but I am not one to jump to conclusions. I am always willing to extend the benefit of the doubt and think the best until experience leads me to think otherwise.
But the fact is that McDaniel Hall needs a coffee shop.
It’s not a frill. It was part of the renovation plan for some very good pedagogical reasons that speak directly to the university’s mission. Students who linger in an academic building before, after, and between classes are more likely to interact with their professors. They’re more likely to continue that intellectual discussion about the ethics of imperialism or the feminist critique of libertarian philosophy or the grammatical rules governing the use of f*ckin’ as an infix.
They’re less likely to return to their dorm rooms for a bootie call or a quick game of FIFA. They’re less likely to take that little nap which ends up lasting the rest of the day. They’re more likely to make it to their next class.
All of which is to say that they’re more likely to succeed.
So it’s not really about the coffee. It’s about student success, which means it’s about ASU’s core mission. It’s about promoting academic excellence, and cultivating a high-quality, student-centered environment.
It’s also about who we are. A vending machine is worse than nothing at all because of the message it conveys about us. It says that we’ll shell out millions to renovate a building, but we’re too cheap to follow through on the original architectural vision.
That vending machine, standing beside that empty countertop, is an affront to the original architectural vision, and to the campus committee that worked with the architects to shape that vision. It’s an intrusion of a robotic sensibility into what was explicitly intended to be a warmly human and sociable space. It says clearly that we lack class.
If Sodexo doesn’t want to staff a coffee shop in McDaniel Hall, then please — let’s get someone in there who does.