Students cancel Café Resource boycott

Drama and dance students at the University of Lincoln have mysteriously abandoned a boycott of Café Resource in the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre (LPAC) building, on Friday, March 19th. The boycott was in the making for weeks, after allegations that the university is putting its commercial interests above students.

The Café Resource boycott, which was due to last until the end of the semester, was called because the café’s staff are allegedly mistreating students. The café area is the only communal area in the LPAC building.

Allegations against the café workers include pulling a chair from underneath a student who refused to move, tearing down posters for student productions, and taking up valuable learning space.

Café Resource has been accused of mistreating students, while the university faces allegations that it favours its commercial interests over students. Photo: Shane Croucher

Jonny Howard, a second-year drama student and student rep, organised the boycott as an event on Facebook, and at the time of cancellation it had attracted 89 members.

Upon removing the event from Facebook, Howard wrote: “The group’s job is now done and the previously mentioned issues are being dealt with by higher figures of authority within the university. I urge you to now treat the café as you would any other commercial venue, and that is if you are happy with the service being provided continue to use the service, if you are not, naturally people may choose not to use the service.”

Following some discussion on the event’s wall in late February, Kayleigh Turner, vice-president for education and academic affairs at Lincoln Students’ Union, intervened. She arranged a meeting on March 3rd between herself, dance and drama student representatives, Julie Tippins, the university’s commercial resources manager, and Richard Herrett, bars, catering and front of house manager at the Engine Shed.

The student representatives who attended the meeting, which didn’t include Jonny Howard, are not supportive of the boycott.

Following the meeting, Turner wrote: “I’m very supportive of what the students say the issues are, which actually [have] nothing to do with the café, but I think [they were] exacerbated by a small number of students taking matters into their own hands after some suggestions from a lecturer.”

A source close to the drama alleged to The Linc that Julie Tippins and Richard Herrett told the student reps at the meeting that even if Café Resource moved out of the building, the university would close off that area and no one would be able to use it – so students should support the café in order to keep it open.

Furthermore, The Linc‘s source claims that most drama students support the boycott, so the student reps, who didn’t support it, ceased to be representative.

The Linc has also been told that Turner visited dance and drama lectures this week to dissuade students from boycotting.

In a statement, Turner said: “The Students’ Union is working with the drama and dance student representatives to come to a solution around the use of the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre. The SU supports the student reps in working towards an outcome that is in the best interests of the students, and which allows them to work alongside the commercial activity situated within the LPAC with no adverse effects on either group.

“[I am] intending to speak to dance and drama students about this issue and will also be meeting with the acting dean of faculty, senior pro-vice chancellor, and student reps to come to an agreement about space utilisation and a possible increase in rehearsal space for Dance and Drama students.”

When The Linc approached Café Resource for comment, we were directed to Richard Herrett, as he is currently acting as manager. Herret also manages the Engine Shed, which is controlled by the University of Lincoln through its ULEX subsidiary. Therefore Café Resource is controlled by the University of Lincoln.

Jonny Howard failed to return The Linc‘s calls for a comment. The University of Lincoln have not released a statement on behalf of themselves or the management at Café Resource/Engine Shed since The Linc‘s initial enquiries on Tuesday, March 16th.

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