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Council to Consider Undergraduate Pub

But Critics Fear the Financial Burden

By Jeffrey C. Wu

The Undergraduate Council is mulling a proposal to establish the first-ever student coffee house in Harvard Square--a proposal which has some members enthusiastic but others concerned about the costs.

According to a resolution put forth by social committee member Seth D. Tapper '91, the pub would operate six days a week from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., in a rented space at 2 Bow Street, directly across from the Bow and Arrow Pub. Tapper's proposal calls for the coffee house to serve limited amounts of free beer, sell food, show late night movies and rent out games for its customers.

The Council will formally debate Tapper's resolution this Sunday.

Supporters say the pub will contribute to the campus' social life by providing undergraduates--many of whom are under 21 and thus cannot meet in the Square's bars--a place to socialize.

"I think it's a good idea," said Residential Committee Chair Daniel H. Tabak '92. "Even if we wind up losing $10,000 a year, it'll be a place for people to go."

Tapper, in a memo to the council, predicted that the coffee house would cost no more than $10,760 per year.

"This cost is almost certainly higher than the actual cost will be," he wrote. "This budget reflects real underestimation in every aspect of income; sales, donations, the newsletter and the late movies will all most likely generate far more than they are listed to, but this much we can be certain of."

"Financially it's not really much of a risk," Tapper said Tuesday night. "The worst that will happen is nobody will show up. Then we can close it."

"Doing a concert is a much more ambitious thing to do," Tapper added. "It's ambitious because it's out of the norm. With 88 Harvard minds I think we can pull this off."

But Council Treasurer Christopher J. Borgen '91 said he wasn't sure the council could fund such an undertaking.

"I have extreme reservations about the financial feasibility of the coffee house," Borgen said. "I don't think all the costs were taken into account in the original budget proposal."

"This year [funding the coffee house wouldn't require] deficit spending but it would butcher the social budget," Borgen continued. "In the long run I could see it posing serious financial problems."

The Council's social committee is already committed to several ventures requiring large capital outlay this year. In April the council will pay $10,000 for a Steven Wright concert, in May another $25,000 for a Ziggy Marley concert.

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