The Wholefoods Collective and the MSA Executive are currently involved in ongoing negotiations to secure the future of Wholefoods and reconcile the dispute between the two parties, as reported on in the last edition of Lot’s Wife. During recent mediation sessions, facilitated by an independent mediator contracted by the MSA, the MSA Executive put forward a proposal that Wholefoods be incorporated and removed from the MSA Constitution. It was originally suggested that these changes be taken to a referendum at the MSA Elections, contingent on the Executive and the Collective agreeing on details at a later date.
The Wholefoods Collective subsequently argued that the time frame for these changes was too short to allow for sufficient planning and research. They maintain that details of any agreement should be decided before a referendum in order for the student body to make an informed decision about whether or not to support an incorporation process. As such, the referendum question has been postponed. Collective is also concerned about ensuring the viability of Wholefoods if it does incorporate, arguing that insufficient legal and financial planning, as well as an as yet unknown rental amount charged by the University, could compromise the future of the enterprise.
Negotiations with the MSA are continuing in the interim. The Executive is considering the idea of bringing back a Volunteers Coordinator and volunteers, which the Collective supports, providing that the model is based on the previous system that offered a meal per 1hr volunteered and is coordinated by a student appointed by Collective. The Executive has also agreed to redirect approximately $250,000 of funding, originally set aside for refurbishing the restaurant space, to a different project. MSA President Esther Hood has also assured Collective that she would approach the University to have recently installed security cameras removed.
Both parties have appreciated the opportunity to discuss the governance issues surrounding Wholefoods, but despite Collective members’ earlier optimism and the Executive’s positive take on the mediation sessions, many serious concerns persist and issues remain unaddressed.