As of Friday afternoon, the Chez Betty food co-op, located on North Campus, will remain open.
Founded in 2012, Chez Betty is a self-service market. Members of the University community can deposit a certain amount of money into their accounts at Chez Betty, which they can then use to pay for items they require. They can go into debt if necessary to make purchases. The facility is operated by the Computer Science and Engineering Graduate Student Organization.
The University Guidelines state new student-run food services are not allowed on campus but allow for certain pre-existing facilities to continue operating.
“These operations have been granted special permission to continue operating with the understanding they are complying with current University and government rules, laws, and regulations related to food safety; fire and life safety; insurance and liability; and financial and tax reporting requirements,” the Guidelines read.
In an email to the Daily on Wednesday, University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the co-op was not up to par with the standards.
However, on Friday, Pannuto took to Facebook again to announce that after a successful meeting earlier that day with representatives from Chez Betty, CSE @ Michigan, the College of Engineering and the Provost’s office, Chez Betty will continue operating.
In an interview, Pannuto said the meeting went very well, and he was surprised that Interim Provost Paul Courant, Amy Dittmar, Vice Provost for Academic and Budgetary Affairs, and Frances Mueller, Associate Vice Provost for Academic and Budgetary Affairs were all in attendance at the meeting, which took place at the Chez Betty establishment.
Pannuto said he isn’t sure what changed their minds, but that Courant opened the meeting and set a positive tone.
“Paul himself hadn’t really heard much about Betty prior to this, which wasn’t that surprising,” he said. “…When he found out what it was, it seemed like the kind of thing the University would really be excited to support and find a good way to move forward. The conversation from the beginning was very much, ‘What do we need to do to make sure that all the wings of the University are happy and not concerned about the operation moving forward, and what do we need to do on our side to make everybody happy?’”
According to Pannuto, the administration said Chez Betty is too big to continue operating out of the CSE Graduate Student Organization and must be established as its own separate legal entity.
In his Facebook post, he explained the facility will shut down before hopefully reopening in early July.
“Betty will close temporarily at the end of the term in order to incorporate, obtain insurance and a state retail food establishment license and handle various other compliance needs,” he wrote. “We plan to reopen as soon as possible after that, once we have all of these things in place–hopefully by Betty’s next birthday in early July.”
Pannuto pointed to the tremendous support Chez Betty has received from students in the past week: his initial Facebook post from Wednesday had asked students to reach out to administrators with their concerns about Chez Betty’s closing.
“We made a lot of noise to get attention and we got attention and it was great,” he said. “The Provost’s office was super responsive and super helpful.”
LSA senior Allison Lahnalam studies computer science and often uses the facility. She said she feels the operation runs very well and she is thankful for the services provided.
She said it will be important from now on that students really appreciate the organization, and that they make sure to keep track of their money and not allow their balances to drop below zero dollars, so as to not “rock the boat” for Chez Betty.
“I think what this whole past week tells students is to remember that this is something that we’re keeping together as a community,” she said. “Keeping that in mind, it’s really important for students to remember to make sure that we don’t go too far in debt, to pay it as soon as we possibly can, and for the students to encourage each and everyone to stay on top of that.”
She said she believes it is important students are reminded Chez Betty is a privilege.
Like Pannuto, she commented on the importance of students coming together and addressing their concerns.
“It’s really good news to see this type of reaction from the students too because it shows that everyone cares,” she said.
LSA junior Ritam Mehta also uses the facility. He said he is happy with the outcome and similarly noted the effectiveness of student support and interaction with the administration.
“The outcome of this ended up being the best it could probably be — getting Chez Betty past the University in a pretty straightforward, good, organizational way,” he said.