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Campus groups no longer allowed to use kitchen for fundraising events

Spencer Van Dyk | Fulcrum Staff

Photo by Justin Labelle

THE 90 UNIVERSITY kitchen has been closed to the public in an effort by the University of Ottawa’s Housing Service to provide residents of the complex with greater access to the facilities. As a result, campus clubs and organizations like the People’s Republic of Delicious (PRD),  which provides free vegan lunches for students once a week, and Best Buddies, which connects students with intellectually disabled individuals from the community, will no longer be able to hold their traditional fundraising events in the space unless they are able to bring in the food already prepared.

“Usually in February we hold a large fundraiser based out of 90U,” said Emily Glass, the activities coordinator for the Best Buddies University of Ottawa chapter. “We have the lounge and the kitchen, and we cook a big dinner. Not only our club members, but members of the community will come and pay $5 for the dinner. Unfortunately, when [our fundraising coordinator] went to book the kitchens this year, we were informed that we could only book the lounge, and that we were no longer able to cook the dinner for the fundraiser.”

According to Michel Guilbeault, the director of Housing Service, the decision was made in an attempt to give 90U residents more access to the services they are paying for.

“The decision was made by Housing Service and concerned the issue of residents’ access to the kitchen, a service for which they are paying residence fees,” he said. “The agreement with PRD was that they would have access to the kitchen facilities once a week from 11 a.m. to two p.m., I think. As you can appreciate, we’ve got about 1,000 residents between the three residences there who need to use the facilities. We were getting a number of complaints from our residents that they felt they could not access the facilities on those days.”

The sentiment from some club members is that although they may not pay residence fees, they are still paying university fees, which they believe entitles them to use the kitchen.

“I think it’s important for students to have access to a kitchen on campus—not just for clubs, but because students pay enormous fees to the university, and there should be a way for them to be on campus and feel that there is a sense of community,” said Glass.

Although club members must go back to the drawing boards in terms of fundraising, all parties involved are optimistic that a compromise can be reached. In the meantime, PRD has been hosting their weekly lunches out of various private homes, and Best Buddies will use the 90U lounge for their fundraiser, bringing in the food as opposed to cooking it onsite.

“The goal is not to put them out, and for them to not have access to our kitchens,” said Guilbeault. “We’re definitely open to ideas, but keeping in mind that our mandate is first and foremost with our residents who are paying the fees.”

Angela Plant, a volunteer and leader with PRD, is looking forward to coming to a resolution with Housing Service.

“I just want to make it clear that we’ve just entered into negotiations with 90U,” said Plant. “We don’t want to make them into villains. We have a reason to be there, and we are supported by students. It’s a conversation, not a fight.”