Repeal and Replace: Hotung Café

Dear fellow students,

I’ve never been a big fan of Hotung Café. It’s dark, the aluminum chairs make a terrible noise, the food isn’t unique enough to justify another Tufts Dining establishment next to the Commons Marketplace and I can’t use my meal swipes. Can’t we do better? Let’s repeal and replace Hotung Café.

In 2010 President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. Ever since, Republicans in Congress have sought to repeal it. For many years, replace was not in the vocabulary, and even once “repeal and replace” began making the rounds in conversation, alternatives to Obamacare lacked clarity, completeness and a sense of reality. It’s my opinion that criticism is worthless without the provision of a rational solution, so when I say “let’s repeal Hotung Café,” I intend to suggest a better alternative with which to replace it. It’s not my intention to be a fool like Mitch McConnell.

Hotung Café is situated on the ground floor of the Mayer Campus Center adjacent to the Commons. There are many things left to be desired in the Campus Center, from adequate ping pong facilities to food that is actually affordable, but of the mistakes in planning and execution, I believe Hotung Café is one of the more egregious errors. Yes, it’s a wonderful events space, and if for some reason you want to watch CNN it’s the place to go, but beyond that, the perpetual cave-like darkness makes it a poor study space, the aluminum chairs create a sonic obstacle course and the overpriced food can’t be purchased with meal swipes.

Repealing and replacing Hotung Café is a wonderful opportunity for our school, both in terms of atmosphere and community building. Currently, the space lacks the inviting air that is desired of a campus center. But imagine the scraping metal seats swapped out for wooden tavern chairs. Imagine the darkness illuminated by soft white light ensconced in iron and paper shades. And how about some student artwork to adorn the walls in rich dark frames — we should celebrate our artists publicly!

Now, for building community, what better way than a student-run restaurant or shop?

The student-run Rez has seen success and popularity, and augmenting our student business community in the Campus Center would be the perfect way to further encourage entrepreneurialism and allow Tufts students an outlet for culinary creativity. I envision a space where our community can gather to share family recipes and new experimental cookery. Our bakers, our stir-fryers, our grill masters and our pastry experts would all have the chance to flourish within our community. The added bonus, of course, is that the food would likely be much less expensive than the Tufts Dining alternatives — just look at the difference between the Tower and the Rez.

What do you say, Tufts? Repeal and replace?



P.S. Not all my columns will be so lighthearted. There are real issues to address here on campus, among them the financial practices of Tufts Dining and the lack of housing. If you have an idea for Repeal and Replace, please write to me.