ASWU grants the Bistro $18,000 due to financial uncertainty
The Associated Students of Willamette University (ASWU) passed an $18,000 grant on Nov. 12 to help the Bistro, Willamette’s on-campus coffee shop. Usually self-sufficient, the Bistro has been facing financial trouble due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a strong possibility that the Bistro would not be able to open for the Spring 2021 semester, according to ASWU Senator Zeke Druker (‘24). Bistro General Manager Maria del Rocio Ortiz Chavarria could not be reached for comment. This $18,000 does come from student fees, which is where ASWU gets its funding.
The Bistro has been considered an important part of the Willamette Community. Druker said they believe the Bistro is important because it provides income to students who need it. Senator Mira Karthik (‘24) believes the Bistro represents student independence, saying: “It’s also amazing that [it’s] not directly affiliated with Willamette as students are the one running it. I think that’s really special and adds to the students can have a say in what goes on, students can interact with the campus in different ways. I think without the Bistro, honestly Willamette’s student life wouldn’t be the way it is.” Druker added that they know $18,000 is a lot of money, but they believe it couldn’t go anywhere more deserving.
Bistro staff gave a presentation to ASWU before the vote on the grant, explaining the situation. Druker and Karthik both reported there wasn’t vocal opposition to the bill, but Senators had some questions about if financial support would continue and other ways the Bistro could be supported. Karthik said, “At the end of the day we all came to the consensus that the Bistro is so important to the student body that it’s worth supporting them in any way that we can as ASWU.”
ASWU Treasurer Michael Burke (‘23) said ASWU will not financially support the Bistro in the future. According to Burke there is about $16,000 left in ASWU’s total funding that will roll over to the Spring 2021 semester. Karthik has been reaching out to the Bistro to look into other ways ASWU and students as a whole can support it in the future.