SAIS Europe’s SGA recently decided to fulfill a campaign promise, supply Bologna with an electric tea kettle.
Now some SAIS DC students might ask ‘what is the big deal about a tea kettle?’ Bologna is a small campus. There is a lobby area and an upstairs student area but not much student space. Going home during breaks is not feasible when you live far away and with classes from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., it can be that you are at school for more than 12 hours.
For food, we can eat at the café in the building, we can go out and eat or we can bring food from home. The café, which is the largest common space at SAIS Europe, is the most convenient. You can sit outside and buy food and coffee. But you can’t study there during busy hours. You can’t have large club and school parties unless you have the owner host them and profit from them. You can’t bring drinks or food because that is his domain. Even our Halloween party was facilitated by him. He connected the planners to his friend who charged us quite a bit more than the previous year. When students found a cheaper space, we were told we couldn’t switch because it would hurt relations and reflect bad on our café owner. It ‘just wasn’t done’ in Italy. Bear in mind no contracts had been signed or money exchanged.
You may be asking yourself at this point, what does any of this have to do with a tea kettle? Well, when the SAIS Europe SGA installed the tea kettle at the school this month, this café owner threw a fit. He did not want it in the building because it would hurt business. It did not matter where you put it. He did not want it in the student lounge, the lobby or the hall. Never mind that we have a microwave that also can heat water but I am digressing.
Our SGA eventually made a deal. We could only use the kettle when the café was closed. The café closes at 7 pm or so, and school closes at 11 pm. So we get 4 hours of prime hot water use.
If you are like me, you would shake your head at the idiocy of this whole situation, but it can be reduced to three main points. First, it is incredulous that the owner would even think that the tea kettle would affect his profit. He probably sells about 20 cups of tea a day to SAISers and most people are not going to go to the trouble of bringing a glass and a tea bag every day. Second, the idea that we can’t have a tea kettle in the building that we pay tens of thousands of dollars a year to be in is absurd. And third, students should be upset that the only compromise the SGA is able to come to is putting in a tea kettle after hours.
Ultimately this whole debacle has nothing to do with a tea kettle and everything to do with control. It begs the question who is really running SAIS Europe?
Holly Love Deaton
First-year student at SAIS Europe