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Seattle Central College students who normally enjoy pastries, coffee, or espresso from the Buzz cafe received an unwelcome surprise on the morning of Monday, November 25 when they entered the Broadway Edison building to find the cafe mysteriously closed. 

“I love lattes,” said student, Takayoshi Tanaka, “but when I haven’t had breakfast at home I rely on the bacon and egg biscuit” from the Buzz. “Fortunately, I’m doing a fast,” continued Tanaka, who visits the cafe at least three times a week, “so I don’t have to go” to the Buzz this week.

Another frustrated student, Alex Vong, who visits the Buzz on a daily basis, said it was “very inconvenient” to find the Buzz closed. Vong said he hadn’t heard about the closure, bemoaning the fact that it wasn’t widely communicated to students. On November 19, faculty and staff heard in an email from Associate Dean of the Culinary Academy, Katherine Kehrli, that, contrary to custom, the Buzz would be closed on the days prior to the Thanksgiving holiday break.

“We know this will disappoint our loyal patrons who look forward to purchasing goodies to supplement their Thanksgiving celebrations,” Kerhli wrote in the email. English faculty, Laura Sinai, who visits the Buzz at least a couple of times a week said, “Particularly,” for Thanksgiving, “I like the rolls. And I’ve gotten desserts there as well.” Social Sciences faculty Kayleen Oka, said, “It’s nice to have stuff for Thanksgiving.”

Students and faculty looking forward to the holiday break weren’t the only ones impacted by the temporary closure of the Buzz. Myra Kaha, Program Manager for the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (AHSS) Division, located on the fourth floor of the Broadway Edison building, classified herself as a big fan of the pastries. She remarked that on the fourth floor “there’s been the smell of pastries up here all day and it makes me sad because I know the Buzz is closed.”

According to Kerhli, the closure comes as faculty who oversee bakery production for the pastry case will be participating in a departmental inservice “that helps us prepare for our accreditation.” Also closed due to the Culinary Academy’s inservice agenda are beloved lunch spots, One World Cafe and Square One Bistro.

All three establishments, operated by the Seattle Culinary Academy at Seattle Central College, offer high-quality fare at lower-than-average Capitol Hill prices for students, faculty, and staff. Interim Dean of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Jamie Cárdenas, said he appreciates the Buzz for “decent prices” and “good food.”

While many students, as well as faculty and staff rely on the Buzz for its high quality, affordable caffeinated drinks. Others, like Alex Vong, don’t want to frequent places like Starbucks because, he said, “the coffee there is quite terrible” and he doesn’t want to support “the big corporation at the expense of small, local business.”

But whether students frequent the Buzz for conscience or quality, the issue here is that students weren’t informed of the cafe’s impending closure. So many Central students travel great distances, braving the tangled traffic of Seattle, to be at this school because it promises to put the needs of students first. But if Seattle Central College really wants to put students first, it needs to begin by effectively communicating simple messages like the closure of the Buzz so students can plan their days accordingly. “If you are going to close, said Kayleen Oka, “students need to be informed.”

In an email to the Seattle Collegian, Katherine Kerhli wrote that though “we did notify administration, faculty and classified staff via email last week it did not dawn on us to figure out a way to notify students. That now seems like a glaring omission.” Part of the problem, according to Kerhli, is that the Culinary Academy does not have “the ability to communicate to the student community directly.” The ability to send emails to everyone at the college was suspended by the Seattle Colleges District in March of 2017.

As a consequence of this suspension, anyone at Central who wants to send an email to the whole Seattle Central community, including to students, must go through the college’s Public Information Officer, Roberto Bonaccorso. “In this case,” Bonaccorso told the Collegian, “the Culinary Academy shared the information with staff, but didn’t request that we send a message about it to students. We mistakenly didn’t follow up on our own – this was an important and relevant message we should have shared with Seattle Central Students.”

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