WLU Brantford Williams an ongoing failure

At last week’s board of directors meeting for the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union, the fate of Brantford’s Williams Fresh Café was debated. Thus far the business has accumulated a deficit of $655,398 and is projected to add to that by $150,000 at the end of 2011.

In response, a proposal was put forward by WLUSU general manager Mike McMahon to draw money from funds originally intended for a food services building to cover the losses. It is hoped that increased traffic in the mall where the Williams is located caused by the possible installation of a call centre will boost sales further. However, when the Williams opened in 2008 a call centre existed in the mall and the café still lost $202,620. This seems like a faint hope at best.

The state of the Williams on the Brantford campus is appalling. The solution proposed by WLUSU management is to toss more money at it and hope and pray that sales increase with possible changes. This is completely and utterly irresponsible. Forgive us for lacking confidence in the financial judgment of certain members of management (see Terrace expansion cost overrun fiasco).

Sadly the board of directors once again failed to protect students’ money from the careless whims of management. Sometimes we can’t help but wonder whether the board is simply a puppet to serve their masters in management. Kudos to the sole board member who voted against this absurdity, Ted Brown.

It is clear that it was a terrible mistake for WLUSU to get involved in the Williams. The café is renting at commercial rates and can’t operate in a low-cost environment like other campus businesses in Waterloo. It also doesn’t guarantee the hiring of students who compete with community members for positions. There is little to no justification for having to foot the bill for this failed business.

When the contract expires, WLUSU needs to pull out of the Brantford Williams and allow the private sector to step in and serve students properly. This ongoing embarrassment needs to stop.