SGA develops new plan for coffeehouse

The Student Government Association (SGA) recently announced plans to expand the functions of the Mary Low Coffeehouse. This effort, which has previously been advocated for by many students, is expected to revitalize the community and Colby-Waterville relations.

While the cozy space in Mary Low once served as coffeehouse run by a student barista, in recent years it has functioned as a venue for entertainment and socialization. Since the closing of the original coffeehouse, multiple attempts have been made to reinstate its traditional function. Until this year, they were to no avail.

The apparent success of this year’s effort can be attributed, in part, to cohesion between SGA and President David A. Greene’s visions for the College. In an interview, SGA Publicity Chair Connor Clancy said “the idea came up in a big brainstorming meeting,” and Greene recognized its potential.

The current plan for the Coffeehouse, according to Clancy, is for the space to serve as a venue for local vendors to present samples and generate student interest in their businesses, rather than being a transaction-based entity like the Joseph Family Spa.

In his first year on campus, Greene has become especially noteworthy for his strong efforts to create a stronger alliance between the College and Waterville. As a result, Clancy noted that Greene’s excitement for the Coffeehouse is likely due in large part to its ability to have students and locals connect in a mutually beneficial way.

Clancy illustrated SGA’s idea for the space as “a place where students can relax with friends in the afternoon, while also learning about opportunities in town.” SGA hopes that when these students see what local vendors have to offer, they will be encouraged to spend more time getting involved off-campus, even if that only means grabbing a bite to eat downtown.

Due to the College’s contract with Sodexo, no outside food services are allowed to operate on campus, which had created insurmountable hurdles for a reinvigoration of the past. However, in conversations with SGA, Director of Dining Services Larry Llewellyn recognized the benefits of providing a platform for local businesses.

Since the new Coffeehouse will have samples rather than sales items, it has been established that it does not provide competition for the Spa and will be supported by Llewellyn, according to Clancy.

So far, SGA has taken care of all the “backend” preparations for the Coffeehouse in addition to clearing up liability issues. Businesses that come to the space will need to sign contracts stating the College is not liable for any problems that occur, which is a standard practice with this type of venue. In terms of funding, since Mary Low will not require any renovations the space will incur a negligible cost.

Organizers are still working on finalizing their reservations for use of Mary Low and getting vendors on board. They are currently working through the student-run company Qponify, which, according to its Facebook page “brings Colby students deals from local businesses.” Businesses that have so far expressed interest in the initiative are The End Zone, Downtown Smoothie, Holy Cannoli and Selah Tea Cafe.

The Coffeehouse is set to begin a trial period on Friday, Apr. 3, when SGA members will monitor its performance during the operating hours of 11 a.m. to 2p.m.

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