Swarthmore's independent campus newspaper since 1881

Bring back Paces Cafe and all that it represents

in Opinions/Staff Editorials by

Our tagline, printed below the name of the paper on every issue and on our website, is “Swarthmore’s independent campus newspaper since 1881.” Although the specific stylings, voice, and reputation of the Phoenix change over time as Editorial Boards come and go, we have always been an independent, student-run organization. We are proud of this and as such, support the continued existence and autonomy of other independent, student-run organizations on campus. We believe that independent student-run organizations are a crucial part of the lessons in leadership, entrepreneurship, adaptability, self-sufficiency, and community-building that lie at the heart of the liberal arts education and constitutes the college’s mission. In conjunction with these beliefs, we at the Phoenix advocate for the prompt reopening of Paces Café with the capacity to accept payment via OneCard.

A Feb. 13 news article published by the Daily Gazette explains that while Paces prepared to begin accepting the OneCard in the near future, college staff audited the café’s finances, placing the future of the cafe in question pending the audit’s completion. While the Phoenix supports best practices for managing the finances of any student group on campus and advocates for transparency in any institution, the timing of this audit at such a critical point in the cafe’s history should not be accepted without question. College staff should have been more open to defining and delineating the college’s relationship with Paces Cafe before the situation reached the point at which Paces needed to be closed. If more conversation between Paces staff and the college had occurred, students who relied on their income from working at the cafe would still have a job.

While we at the Phoenix understand that college students should not operate with complete, unsupervised autonomy in all cases, we encourage the college to avoid reducing opportunities for students to work and benefit the community through independent activities. Opportunities for experiential learning, which many extracurricular and cocurricular activities offer, are directly in line with the College’s stated mission to train students to lead full, balanced lives as individuals and to live as responsible citizens through exacting intellectual study supplemented by a varied program of activities. Thus, the Phoenix encourages the preservation of spaces like Paces Cafe and the Student Budget Committee that heavily operate on and are shaped by students’ own operations.

We at the Phoenix also believe that being able to accept payment via OneCard is key to ensuring the future success of Paces. It seems clear that implementation of the OneCard program without including Paces was a significant factor in the financial difficulties Paces experienced over the last semester. Allowing Paces into the OneCard program without attaching extra administrative oversight from the college is an important step in not only allowing Paces to become increasingly self-sufficient but to make Paces more accessible to a diverse pool of students.

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