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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Editorial: Don’t let Chum’s go to the sharks

Published: November 7, 2008
Section: Opinions

Due to a worsening state of disrepair, Chum’s Coffeehouse is seeking university funding for the first time in its history.

Anyone who has heard of Chum’s legendary connection to the popular TV show Friends cannot help but be a little disappointed when they walk into the space to discover a worn-down carpet, faded furniture and shoddy appliances. Both students and the University would benefit from preserving a place like Chum’s. Student organizations rely on the coffeehouse to serve as a venue for club-sponsored events, while the University would attract prospective students with a place that evokes memories of what one can achieve at Brandeis.

Because of its intimate student connections—being student-run and featuring mostly student entertainment/functions— Chum’s is a symbol of the Brandeis students who have passed through this quaint coffeehouse and gone on to do great things post-graduation. Sitting in Chum’s and contemplating Brandeis’ famed alumni, or watching a student performance, it seems that the venue should better reflect its impressive history and outstanding showcase of talent.

However, in the interim, as students and administrators work together to secure funding for Chum’s, a temporary solution may be to draw upon the driving force of Chum’s—the student body. Since the coffeehouse is intended to be a place for students, let them make it their own by giving them the opportunity to contribute to the renovation effort. Students cannot be expected to replace windows or flooring, but they may be willing to donate a piece of furniture or an appliance decorated in their style to a place that has come to symbolize the individuality of Brandeis students. The visual display of an array of objects that students can relate to will inject new life and energy into Chum’s.

However, the basic maintenance necessary to sustaining Chum’s will require University funds. One possible danger in this is that a financial contribution from the University will be accompanied by an administrative influence. While students and administrators collaborate successfully on multiple fronts, Chum’s has historically been a place for students. You won’t see a Union-administration roundtable there anytime soon. Thus, in seeking University funding, Chum’s must be careful to preserve the coffeehouse’s student-influenced atmosphere.