Maggie’s cafe leaves vacant spot in heart of campus, student’s lives

Illustration of ghosts haunting Maggie's
Illustration by Emma Ford

WELCOME BACK to campus everybody! At least, what is left of it.

Look, I understand how I sound — and to be honest, you are going to have to get used to it because there is a new Opinions editor in town — but I am not exaggerating when I tell you I almost choked upon reading a certain Campus Living update email this summer. Bon Appétit and the administration have killed Maggie’s Cafe!

I was excited to live in Platt-Howard Hall last year, my freshman year, in no small part because of the proximity to Maggie’s. I ate there constantly. I grabbed food for my friends and roommate, I met people to study and hang out. That warm, loud cafe was so comfortable and inviting I could almost forget it was decorated with basically the same furniture as my dorm common room and it cost $6 (or six flex points, which everyone knows is not real money) to buy quart milk, but $2 to buy 16 oz. Monster energy drink.

Maggie’s played a huge part of my freshman experience. It saw the birth of friendships and the end of them too. It saw tough truths as much as it saw easy laughter. Now it is gone, and I really am having a hard time coping.

One of the key issues here, as I see it, has to do with the campus community. At least half of the student body lives on campus for at least two years, and with high gas prices and no parking many of us are often stuck on campus. At such a small school, there are understandably limited options for social spaces. With the shutdown of Templeton Student Center and the COVID-19 restrictions on dorm common rooms (or their conversion into student living spaces), Maggie’s was a bastion of community and a constant in our lives.

Every friend I have made at this school has spent an hour or two with me there. My predictive text on my phone still helpfully suggests “Maggie’s” when I type “Meet me at …” Now I feel like it should be suggesting “the building formerly known as Maggie’s” or “the corpse of Maggie’s.” I may be coming across as hyperbolic, but this was a pillar of our social life on campus. To get rid of it with no real alternative is a gut blow to students.

My other concern is much less abstract. With the failure of the Trail Room to open on schedule and the extremely limited Dovecote Café hours, I truly do not know whether to level my anger at the administration or the company that supplies our campus food options, Bon Appétit. The management of their on-campus facilities is impaired by an inability to maintain staffing, and one cannot help but wonder why, on a campus full of students looking for the ever-elusive campus job, they cannot find workers. What does that say about the conditions that hardworking, dedicated Bon workers are facing right now?

In my opinion, neither party has shown much concern for the satisfaction of students in recent months — and why should they? The administration admitted a record number of students to a school with astronomical tuition and required 14-meal-a-week meal plans with flex points that are currently all but unusable. There is no situation here in which they lose money even if they are providing a lower level of service than what we all had to agree to pay for as a condition of attending this school. Meal plan alone is not enough to change entire academic plans, but it is enough to affect quality of life during the pursuit of those goals. Do you honestly think any of that money will ever be seen by us again if we go a whole semester or even a whole year with only limited Bon and Dovecote hours?

I miss our cafe. I will miss midnight snack runs and meal swipe sandwiches. I am truly just sad, and while I know that the administration’s main incentive is money, I wish they would change their minds. They are beginning to move past the point of no return regarding the happiness of their student population — and they would do well to remember that without happy students, money starts to disappear.

Respect the calls of the people who expected they were paying for a certain level of on-campus services. Bring back Maggie’s, please.

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