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Saint Mary’s cyber cafe opens for business

Justin Tardiff | Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The cyber café located in the new Saint Mary’s Student Center opened Friday, attracting the appetites of many on campus. Formerly, the café on campus was housed in the Haggar College Center, but that space will now be converted to offices. The new café offers students, faculty and visitors more options for dining on campus, as well as supporting Grounds for Change by serving Fair Trade Coffee. The café menu includes enough variety to satisfy any taste buds, offering pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, melts, salads, desserts, daily specials and many other foods. There are also a variety of bottled beverages, specialty coffee drinks, smoothies and fountain drinks available, all of which can be paid for with students’ “munch money.””The inside of the new café is gorgeous,” said sophomore Liz Johnson. “I think it will be useful for a lot of things like studying, eating or socializing.” Not only does the café satisfy the needs of hunger, it also gives students and faculty a place to study, meet with groups, or hang out with friends.”I was really surprised,” said student-worker Jen McLean. “I thought it would have mostly been students in here, but there have been a lot of professors and adults from around campus.” The café has an ultra-modern contemporary interior and is wired for wireless Internet connection. There will be four computers installed that will be available for use by students within a week, Bowles said.The café’s tables advertise the College’s choice to purchase and use Fair Trade Coffee for all coffee drinks. The decision to serve Fair Trade Coffee was made after numerous students asked that the switch be made from the traditional coffee. “There was a large population on campus that requested it,” said Barry Bowles, general manager of dining facilities at Saint Mary’s. “The new café seemed to be the perfect opportunity to use Fair Trade Coffee to benefit the College, and the women and women’s causes it benefits around the world.”According to a Grounds for Change pamphlet available in the café, Fair Trade Coffee is coffee that has been certified by a fair trade certification organization verifying the workers who grow and harvest the beans are well paid and work in a democratically-run cooperative. Fair trade looks after not only the workers, but also ensures that the environment is protected.According to Grounds for Change, “Fair Trade Coffee is especially important now, due to the coffee crisis that is devastating coffee-producing communities around the world.”Saint Mary’s selected the house blend of coffee Cafe Femenino that is farmed, sold and marketed solely by women. According to the pamphlet, the coffee is imported for an extra two cents per pound above the set Fair Trade price, and this extra money goes directly to the women who are free to spend the money however they desire. “I think it’s a wonderful example of the caring community we are a part of at Saint Mary’s,” said former student body president Sarah Catherine White. “It’s another great way to give back to the world and to show what we are about.”Since this coffee must be bought for a higher price, the price per cup of coffee on campus has been increased to accommodate. While many students support the change in price because of the cause it benefits, others are upset with the increase. “I understand the reasoning behind this change – our school felt the need to support the coffee workers – however, I am disappointed that they did not consult the student body before they made the change,” said sophomore Felicia Lipari. “As for the few cent increase, the coffee was already expensive; I don’t have the interest or money to pay three to four dollars for a cup of coffee, period.”Other changes that the café will bring to campus during the next year include adjustments to the “grab-and-go” boxed lunches offered to students who are not able to be on campus during the lunch hour. Students will now be able to exchange a meal for a larger variety of food and beverage options in the café, rather than choosing from a predetermined list.Currently the café has limited hours. Starting April 18, the fixed hours for the remaining of the semester will be Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and the café will remain closed on the weekends. Starting in the fall, however, the café will be open with extended hours tentatively set for Monday through Thursday 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays from 6:30 a.m. until midnight, Saturdays from 10 a.m. until midnight and Sundays from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. These hours may be adjusted throughout the year, pending feedback from students, Bowles said.