After 30 years in operation, the Student Union Drinking Spot (SUDS) at Brandon University is closing its doors.
The last time SUDS saw a profit was five years ago, said Nick Brown, president of the Brandon University Students’ Union.
With a steady decline of student interest combined with falling revenue, SUDS operated at a deficit of almost $41,000 as of March 27.
The deficit also puts BUSU in a tough spot as any deficit not recovered by April 30, 2017 will be taken out of BUSU’s 2017-18 budget.
"This is not a fun thing to have to do as a student union, SUDS has been a home away from home for a lot of people," said Brown, who remembers visiting frequently while in residency between 2011 and 2014.
"SUDS was the social place to be. It was the fun place to be, but students are not as interested in being a part of SUDS anymore."
Unlike other university student unions that have struggled to keep an on-campus drinking establishment afloat, SUDS didn’t suffer from any issues of theft or high turnover rates, Brown said, adding their last manager ran the show for five years before moving on.
They did have a rough start to this year, however, with the new replacement manager quitting after one day on the floor, and major renovations causing a slowdown in business, Brown said.
This year’s bad luck just sealed the deal on a growing problem.
"We’ve been struggling to get people to attend events. We’ve experienced a drop in numbers" Brown said.
But for the students who use it, SUDS’s closure is a huge loss.
"The Brandon University Gaming Association wanted to keep SUDS open, it’s been very beneficial to us. It’s really one of the only places we can hold socials," said Jacob Hanstead, a student and member of the gaming club. "SUDS is just kind of a place you can come and chill at. It’s a place where my club comes to host socials. As a resident student, I really appreciated the good, fresh food that they serve."
The Gaming Association recently started a petition to keep SUDS opened, garnering four pages of signatures, Hanstead said, adding another group started a GoFundMe page but only received $50 in donations.
But where one door closes, another opens, as the Knowles Douglas Commission Board that owns the building is not in favour of leaving the space empty, and already have received inquiries on the vacancy, Brown said.
"We’re excited to see what they’re going to do with the space. We have a couple restaurants and a couple small businesses interested," he added. "We do want to maintain a student-centred atmosphere."
BUSU will also be maintaining the brand, so future student unions will have the option to revive the business if they so choose, Brown said.
Drink the Bar Dry on Friday will be the final day of operations. BUSU will also be auctioning off some mementos in September 2018 to help recoup some of the losses.
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We asked: How do you feel about SUDS closing?
Harlie Parisien: "I’ve never been to SUDS … I’m in the nursing program so I’m usually on the opposite end of the campus, and if I am on this side I’m usually in the library."
Jacob Hanstead: "Honestly I’m kind of distraught. SUDS is just kind of a place you can come and chill at."
Yanik Fillion-Murphy: "I’m kind of disappointed that it’s closing. It’s been there so long. They had jazz night on Thursdays, and that’s ... when I would go there."