Payment confusion overshadows coffee shop opening

By Victor Dixon, Editor-in-Chief

The long-awaited Sacred Grounds Coffee & Cafe and the Student Success Center are both open on the ground floor of the Dugan Library after months of construction and anticipation, and since the opening, I’ve visited it several times to see exactly what all the hype is about.

Let’s start with the positive: It’s a modern and inviting space. I was happy to take a seat and get some homework done. It’s well-lit, comfortable, and has several different seating options conducive to eating, studying, reading or just hanging out and talking with your friends.

There are also several important resources being offered in this space, such as tutoring, testing, support for international students, career services, and accommodations for students with disabilities. And it’s all within a part of campus that is easy to locate and access and that already gets a lot of foot traffic from students who are using library resources, gathering in the Student Center to play ping-pong, or just passing through.

However, the Sacred Grounds Coffee & Cafe area, which was arguably the most advertised part of the whole project, turned out to be pretty underwhelming. The cafe, run by Newman’s food provider Great Western Dining, began with offering a few different options of food and drink, including pizza, coffee, salads, and breakfast burritos. I’ve found the quality of menu items to be on the high end of what we’ve become accustomed to from Great Western Dining, but still only about as good as you could expect from mostly pre-packaged foods.

My main concern though, is with how payment is being handled. First of all, they are not taking payment in cash, which is inconvenient, but acceptable. But there seems to be some confusion about whether students have some $60 dollar credit toward purchases at the cafe. For a story in last week’s issue of The Vantage, our staff reached out to Food Services via email and were told that said credit was being offered only to undergraduate students who are not on a meal plan. Then students received an email from President Kathleen Jagger on Tuesday promising that credit to all full-time undergraduate students. The Vantage contacted Food Services again this week for clarification and was told that things are changing but that details could not be shared until Tuesday of next week.

The question of whether students with meal plans will have to pay extra at the cafe has officially been a part of university-wide conversation since as early as the Town Hall held in October last semester. So why is there any uncertainty about the way things will be run in the most overhyped part of the whole project?

One thing is certain: If the cafe wasn’t organized and ready to open, it shouldn’t have. The Student Success Center could just have easily opened on its own with all its wonderful resources and left the figurative “coming soon” sign on the cafe, where it belongs.

PHOTO: Courtesy photo, Newman University