When the Alma Mater Society here at the University of British Columbia revealed last year that the planned new Student Union Building (SUB) will house a brewery, students were overjoyed at the prospect of cheap, local craft beer.
Not only would a SUB brewery add some flavour to UBC’s decidedly drab cuisine, it would also significantly up the ante of our campus culture. Right now, our coolness factor is suffering. Our version of the Harlem Shake has only 156,000 views on YouTube. The University of Toronto’s has more than 2.2 million views, even beating out that legendary Lip Dub we made last year (remember that?) with its mere two million views.
Unfortunately, our vision of a business savvy, beer-producing student union may be too good to be true. It turns out that this year’s executives are not very passionate about the brewery and are moving it to the UBC Farm, which is, well, a farm, not to mention far from the heart of campus. The reason given: it’s cheaper. More specifically, building in the SUB will cost $410 per square foot, while it will cost only $350 per square foot on the farm. But seeing as we have already spent a staggering $50,000 on consultations, I am skeptical that money is the real problem. The AMS may simply be hoping negotiations fizzle and the project dies, so they can focus on less complex things.
That would be a shame. While I’m not exactly a beer connoisseur, I am all for fostering school spirit and a sense of community. This ambitious project would help do that. A student-run brewery would also attract visitors to our rather isolated Vancouver campus and contribute to the vibrant craft beer culture in the city. Of course, if we are only after natural, locally-brewed beer, it makes little difference where the UBC brewery ends up being built, as long as it’s on campus.
And if all else fails, we can always console ourselves with Tuesday beer specials at the Pit Pub.
Vivien Chang studies English Literature and History at the University of British Columbia.