By Hope Riley, Living Editor
The Source’s monopoly of communal areas on campus means that it can charge students extortionate prices, perpetuating the University’s reputation of inaccessibility.
The University’s trademark chain of Source cafés is frequented by hordes of hungry students on a daily basis. Not because the Source offers quality, reasonably-priced food and drink options; but because due to the chain's occupation of university hotspots, there is often nowhere else to go.
With notable locations on the ground floor of the ASS, in Beacon House study space and on the popular Stoke Bishop accommodation campus, these cafés are frequently so busy that there are queues around the block, generating an overwhelming amount of business for the staff on shift.
On the UoB website, the University boasts that Source cafés ‘provide an important social role, providing places to meet, share ideas and gather one’s thoughts.’ Instead, it seems that the Source has monopolised Bristol’s study spaces, banning students from eating their own packed lunches in communal areas, and committing daylight robbery in the form of charging £1.80 for a blueberry muffin.
Whilst I applaud the University for paying Source employees a living wage, and for the company’s commitment to sourcing Fairtrade ingredients as well as carrying out sustainable food waste procedures, I fail to see how these policies mean that the products on sale have to be priced quite so extortionately.
Their social and ethical conscience seems not to have extended to consider the needs of the everyday student. If the University is truly serious about widening accessibility and ensuring that people from all backgrounds are able to study and live in Bristol, then charging less than £3.65 for a panini in Beacon House would be a good place to start.
A University spokesperson said: 'The University’s Catering team is currently working with Bristol Students’ Union to seek opinions and views from staff and students about the food and drink they want to buy on campus.
'The ‘Food for Thought’ survey will inform what is offered in Source cafés located across the University.
'The findings will also help shape the new two-floor food court with seating for 200 people, coffee shop and Bristol SU Bar/Café in Senate House, part of the Campus Heart programme. So far, 1,400 people have taken part. The survey is open until 25 November.
'Source’s commitment to paying staff in line with the University’s living wage and the sustainable sourcing principles do impact on price. However, Source works closely with Faculties to offer a diverse range of ‘food and drink on the go’ options that are better value for money than the high street.
'To ensure that customers have a space to sit and eat, this can mean that (especially at peak times), those who have finished their food, or who are consuming their own food, might be asked to move to designated study or social spaces.'
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