There’s nothing more important in the morning of your average student than their daily dose of highly caffeinated coffee, and many of us here like to get that coffee from our beloved Cap Bar, which is in dire need of renovations if it is to serve the University of Dallas community in a more pleasant and efficient manner.
Most of us who were around campus in 2018 would remember the ferocious debate regarding proposed renovations to the current Cap Bar.
The proposed plan entailed enlarging the Cap Bar, improving seating options and potentially providing space for a retail food service provider (like Chick-fil-a or Whataburger) by moving the bookstore downstairs to where the Rathskeller currently is.
However, this plan was put on hold due to massive student and alumni push-back. An article was even published in 2018 in The University News by Clare Basil claiming that the plan to renovate was a net negative for the community; Basil argued that the plans infringed upon subsidiarity.
It would be a great error for our community to reject the proposed renovations a second time, for four key reasons.
First, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man (or woman) in possession of a good cup of coffee, must be in want of a comfortable place to drink, think and read.
The current Cap Bar’s chairs are the most uncomfortable, cheap-feeling chairs of any coffee shop I have ever been to. The tables are tiny, constantly shifting and impractical for any kind of group to do their homework on or simply have a good discussion around.
It’s impossible not to recognize the great advantage that would be had by all if the Cap Bar’s chairs were more comfortable and the tables were larger. After all, pretty much everyone’s favorite place in a normal coffee shop is the cozy, “Friends”-style sofa therein.
Why work so hard to deny our community such a simple, yet incredibly beneficial, pleasure?
Second, it is impossible to deny the necessity of renovations to the Cap Bar if it is to continue to reliably serve students coffee on a daily basis.
There is not a feeling quite so frustrating as when one walks into Haggar, hoping to quickly get some coffee, greet a couple friends and dash to class, but then sees a line at the Cap Bar stretching around the corner. When you’re rushing from class to class and need to stop to get some coffee really quickly, most accept that the Cap Bar is not a good option.
Even the most ardent defender of the current Cap Bar must admit how odd it is that our community has settled for a coffee shop that most cannot rely upon for their daily coffee.
Third, though it is easy to hate on Aramark as it is a big corporation and many feel as if they are indifferent to our opinions or our community, they have made significant moves to work with our administration to accommodate our desires and concerns.
Recently, after petitioning by ECO at UD, Aramark responded by implementing trayless dining, switching to compostable plasticware, cups and lids, and switching the cups at the Cap Bar to the compostable cups as well.
After it was established that the community was interested in having a sushi option, Aramark brought in Sushic, a change many have completely embraced.
Aramark is clearly interested in catering to our university, meeting our needs and addressing our concerns as well as they can. It’s high time we lose our hostile attitude towards Aramark and begin viewing them as a resource rather than a rival.
Though there are a great many more reasons I could expound upon in favor of the Cap Bar renovations, the last one I shall discuss is the expansion of the seating area.
This isn’t a simple matter of convenience, though it would be nice to have a better chance of actually being able to sit down after I get my coffee, as most of the few seats are always taken.
No, this is a matter of community. The Haggar University Center was supposed to be the student center for our university. Yet, as UD has become increasingly strapped for cash while simultaneously growing, it has had to expand its administration faster than it could construct buildings. Many of these practical services like the Office of Student Affairs, the counseling center, the clinic and other small offices now occupy these spaces instead.
Providing a center for students to build community is essential in our fast paced college environment. Every other university that I can think of, even state schools, have large and bustling student centers.
The Cap Bar is one of the few places that exist completely for our community to gather casually, catch up and maintain friendships, but its current form is so tiny, inefficient and uncomfortable that most opt to make their own coffee and not stop by at all.
If we renovated the Cap Bar, enlarged the seating space and made it more comfortable and efficient, then we would truly have a student union here at UD, the addition of which would be invaluable.
This debate is one of the most lively at our university, and rightly so. Be involved, have your voice heard, make sure that whatever deal comes through works for you, but, above all, abandon hostility to change for its own sake, or our community will suffer.