Can the Pond stay afloat?

Last Wednesday, the staff of Mount Allison’s campus pub the Pond hosted a town hall meeting to receive student feedback for future renovations. the Pond has been struggling financially for a number of years and many events are not well attended.

According to an email from Andy Hebert, manager of the Pond, student feedback will shape the future of their business model.

“We know that students are not happy with the space. To keep the Pond running as a sustainable business, we need to make changes. We are currently looking at options that will best meet the needs of both students and the University,” Hebert wrote.

At the meeting, roughly 20 student attendees were divided into breakout sessions led by student Events Services Staff (ESS). Students were asked about any positive or negative experiences they have had at the pub and to make recommendations for the future.

Cara MacKenzie, a third-year environmental science student, attended the event.

“To be honest, I went for the [free] nachos. I didn’t really think in advance of ideas that I had for the Pond and was surprised [by] all that we came up with,” she said. “The focus groups were good because we could bounce ideas off of one another, and share and build on ideas in a way that we wouldn’t have been able to if we were just filling out a survey.”

Student attendees were not given specific information on the nature of the potential renovations, but instead were asked to describe their ideal campus pub.

Some attendees suggested physical changes such as the removal of the dance floor mural and better lighting. Others recommended switching the locations of the men’s and women’s washrooms, as some female students reported feeling unsafe walking down the hallway to the washroom alone.

According to Amber Quinn, a first-year psychology student, physical changes could make the pub more accessible.

“I think that it’s important for myself as well as many other students to feel like we have a comfortable environment in the Pond. I think a brighter and chiller aesthetic is the sort of environment that suits Sackville students the most,” Quinn said.

Other attendees suggested changes to the Pond’s business model, including adding alcohol services throughout the day, moving away from a club atmosphere, providing healthier food options and having large monthly events instead of smaller events every weekend that are not always well attended.

“I think the Pond just needs a solid identity that would draw a crowd. Every bar in town has its own niche and I think the Pond needs that too,” MacKenzie said.

Hebert wrote that the Pond staff will also be sending out a campus-wide survey by email so that all students, whether or not they attended town hall, have the opportunity to provide feedback.

Jill Macintyre