Due to a decision from the AMS to start opening The Pit at 11:30 a.m. every day, Sprouts is now a space for those aged 19 and over. Sprouts is a volunteer-run cafe that does not serve any alcohol and while it previously had its own space in the Old SUB, it has been using a part of The Pit during the day while the Old SUB is under construction.
“The Pit itself is licensed, and so essentially when it’s operational, you have to be 19 to get in — that’s just the law,” said Chris Scott, AMS VP Administration, on the change. “Volunteers that are not 19 — they’re permitted to be in the kitchen because that space is not licensed.”
Scott defended the decision to start opening The Pit earlier by stating that it was necessary financially.
“The way our agreement works with UBC is for any commercial spaces we have, The Pit included, we are charged per square foot for utilities and for custodial. That doesn’t apply to non-commercial spaces in the Nest,” said Scott. “Essentially, by closing The Pit [during the day], we were taking a financial loss and so at this point, it was about time to open it.”
According to Frances Jones, the president of Sprouts, she was emailed during reading week by the food and beverage manager of the AMS. As she was in Wyoming for the week, she couldn’t meet up until Monday, at which point The Pit had already been opened early.
“We got no consultation at all,” said Jones. “I think they basically were just like, this is just how it’s going to be from now on and expected us to just kind of bend to those rules — which is understandable considering that the AMS is a business and needs to make money. We don’t make them any money, but it’s a little frustrating that they didn’t consult us at all for this process.”
The decision did face some criticism online as well, as many students under the age of 19 frequently use Sprouts, which is known for its affordable lunches.
“I’m 18. I’m broke like all of you guys. I want to eat cheap food at sprouts. I can’t right now cus the ams decides that people really need alcohol at 11:30(wink wink the pit is pretty empty rn),” wrote Reddit user friends.
Scott replied in the Reddit thread with the same explanation given to The Ubyssey, but faced further criticism.
Sprouts’ space-sharing arrangement with the AMS is unique in that it does not cost them any money, but that it is still ultimately not their space.
“Going into it, it’s our every intention to support Sprouts and to uphold the mandate of their club. But with the foresight that a situation like this might arise, we did ultimately say that it’s the AMS’s space and that we can do with it as we please,” said Scott.
Jones said that while Sprouts has seen a small decline in customers, it hasn’t been critical. However, as they were told that their new space would not be ready to move into until December 2017, she was somewhat concerned as to where they would be located until then.
“We’re not angry at the AMS for doing this,” said Jones. “It is frustrating, but they have been really generous with us this year about giving us this space … so we are very appreciative.”