Wittenberg Radio #16

This week on Wittenberg Radio, introducing new co-host Grace Kang, a conversation with Jess Erb about Nuit Blanche and her life as an artist, music pick of the week from Anna Bigland-Pritchard, a message from your friendly Blaurock Cafe managers, sports with Craig and more!

 You can read the entirety of the message from the Blaurock managers below: 

To the Students of CMU:

It has come to our attention over the last week that many of you have questions and concerns about the new policies at the Blaurock. We have been given the opportunity to explain the reason behind these changes here, and hope that it will help you to understand their purpose.

First and foremost, we would like to assure you that the Blaurock is still 100% student run. We,the managers, are responsible for all of the decisions and changes that the Blaurock has undergone in the last 2 years, with no interference from faculty, staff, or even student concil. The only outside ‘interference’ from which some of these changes have stemmed are government regulations(health codes) and the student body themselves. We are volunteers, just like everyone else who helps make the Blaurock possible and our primary goal is to see the Blaurock grow and thrive, especially with the impending café situation presented by the new Library.

Next, we would like to explain the reasoning behind a few of the most disputed changes, notably restrictions of access to the Blaurock for non-volunteers (or volunteers off shift) and dispensing of cutlery and mugs. The first issue—who can enter the Blaurock—is a health code issue. We’re not trying to create an unwelcoming environment, or make students feel as though the Blaurock is not a student operation; we are trying to keep the Blaurock open! We understand that in the past people have been free to come and go as they please, but after two encounters with a none-to-impressed health inspector and the threat of a hefty fine or closure, we decided that this freedom is not conducive to the well-being of the Blaurock. The second issue—cutlery and dishes—ties into a much broader range of issues that cropped up last year. The first reason for the new policy, and the easiest to address, is that we are not equipped to deal with these items. Our ‘dish washer’ is really just a sanitizer; it does not have drainage for food particles, only water soluble matter (eg. milk foam and small coffee granules). Yes, we have a sink, but asking a volunteer to wash dishes for people, namely non-customers, is not something we are willing to do, nor is any other coffee shop or business that we know of. As a result of the first change, we cannot permit students to wash their own dishes in our sink.

The second reason for this change, that we have been reluctant to discuss up until this point, is stealing. Cutlery, mugs, milk, coffee, you name it, it has been taken from the Blaurock out of hours and throughout the day. If you were a volunteer last year, you may have experienced the embarrassment of having a paying customer (maybe even someone you didn’t know or a prof.) order a drink, only to realize that you had nothing to serve it to them in; it is not a good feeling. Or maybe you worked a shift one day where there were a few dozen spoons only to come back the next week to see there were none. This was a constant issue that we tried tirelessly to correct. We bought, scavenged, and begged for spoons and cups—the mother of one of our managers even donated an entire box full of mugs—but they all went missing. The amount of time and energy one our part that went into keeping the Blaurock stocked was unreasonable, so this year we decided to give up the fight; pick your battles wisely, and all that. So yes, the Blaurock is student run and owned, but it is also a business. We do inventory, we track sales, we pay taxes, and we are completely self-sufficient (we have some money supplied by student council each year for major purchaces, but day-to-day expenses rely entirely on sales profit), so when things go missing it is incredibly frustrating and very disappointing. At one point we were desperate enough to consider locking our fridge to prevent these losses during evening hours and weekends.

We know not everyone contributed to these losses, but the amount of incidents made these changes necessary for the health of the Blaurock. We also did this for our own sanity, because to be honest, at the end of last year we felt like we and the Blaurock had been taken advantage of. We understand that people liked the openness of the Blaurock, and we want to keep some of that going. The Blaurock is a place where students can congregate, hang out, and enjoy good coffee in the comfort of their own home-away-from-home; we all love the Blaurock. However, the expectations that we have for it appear to differ. We, the managers, love the Blaurock because we love coffee. We take pride in being able to work with local businesses to provide customers with quality drinks and goods.

Over the past year we have worked incredibly hard to better the Blaurock as a business; finding the most reliable and quality partners, creating specials and features that will appeal to the student body, and making ourselves accountable to the needs and requests of our customers. Of course we are not perfect, there have been times where the milk has been down to the last drop and the coffee down to the last bean, but know that we are trying. Unfortunately, we cannot make everyone happy all of the time, there is always going to be something that can be improved upon, but we are trying to focus on making the Blaurock the best business it can be and making our paying customers happy with what they are paying for. It is our sincere hope that you can understand this, and will continue to help us make the Blaurock flourish.

Thank you,

The Blaurock Managers.