UCSD administrators and the C.H.E. Cafe recently came to a resolution regarding the future of the facility. After meeting with collective representatives earlier this month, Chancellor Pradeep Khosla rescinded the university’s threat of eviction and instead proposed allocating school funding for several facility repairs.
The two parties reached an agreement after negotiations with the C.H.E. passed from Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Juan Gonzalez to Khosla and includes funds for four improvements to the cafe building. These include a new fire suppression sprinkler system, a fire alarm pull system, tempered glass windows and a “travel/exit path evaluation,” all of which are to be paid for by UCSD.
Past negotiations between the C.H.E. cafe collective and university administration failed to reach any resolution. An email between collective member and Muir College senior Raquel Calderon and Executive Assistant to Vice Chancellor Gonzalez Sean Selvey showed the friction between collective members and administrative officials.
“C.H.E. collective members have met with the vice chancellor before, and meetings were unproductive. Unless Vice Chancellor Gonzalez is planning to tell us in this meeting about how and when he is going to stop the eviction, we decline the offer to meet,” Calderon said in an email to Selvey in June. “If we have to wait to speak to Chancellor Khosla, we will.”
In July, many members of the C.H.E. Cafe considered the inclusion of Chancellor Khosla into negotiations the turning point in the fate of the historic cafe and music venue. Since the initial meeting with Khosla, the threat of eviction has been rescinded, allowing for better negotiations with Gonzalez. Subsequent meetings regarding repairs to the C.H.E. Cafe have been directed to Gonzalez.
C.H.E. Cafe supporters continued to share their concerns since an eviction notice was served to the venue in March. The collective members credit their ability to reach an agreement with the administration to the relentless support of the surrounding community.
“A loud and overwhelming message of ‘Save the C.H.E’ from current students, alumni and community members,” came in various forms, the C.H.E. said in a statement to the UCSD Guardian. It included a “record-breaking 24/7 occupation of the threatened space lasting 120 days, artist and alumni boycotts of the university, marches [and] rallies.”
With more grassroots attention, more media attention came, too. The Save Our Heritage Organization included the C.H.E. Cafe on its 2015 Most Endangered List of Historical Resources based on its cultural importance to the surrounding community.
“One of those beloved, old hangouts at UCSD that devoted students and alumni will always want to revisit,” the organization said on its website, referring to the C.H.E. Cafe. “It may be the last remnant of 1960s counterculture on this campus and a symbol of free speech served up with an earthy menu.”
Associate Chancellor and Khosla’s Chief of Staff Clare Kristofco reciprocated the positive attitude regarding progress made toward repairing the C.H.E.
“The discussions have been productive and we remain optimistic that we will be able to address the fire and life safety upgrades at the C.H.E. Cafe,” Kristofco told the Guardian.
Collective members are currently working with a general contractor and an architect to develop a report on what updates should be made to the building and determine costs.
“The administration has communicated the value they see in the collective and the space and are working with us to make sure the two exist for future students,” C.H.E. representatives said.
Since the end of the occupation of the C.H.E. cafe, collective members are looking to expand the role of the collective in the campus community. Aside from hosting concerts, the collective has started providing cheaper or free vegan meals and hopes to provide study spaces for students in the future.