A new partnership agreement governing the Wardroom has been signed, laying the foundation for a strong future for the college’s much-loved campus bar.
Established in the late 1970s by King’s Board of Governors, the Wardroom has operated under the terms of an agreement that dates back to its founding. That agreement stated that the bar would be managed by the King’s Students’ Union (KSU) and also through an additional structure, the Wardroom Board of Management (WBOM). The membership of the WBOM included the presence of alumni, among others, reflecting the original vision of the Wardroom as a central gathering place for all members of the community.
This vision of the Wardroom has been embraced in the decades since the bar’s establishment, contributing to the lively and welcoming atmosphere. At the same time however, an understanding developed between the KSU and the university that the role of the WBOM did not fit with the evolution of the Wardroom into a fully student-run bar.
The university additionally came to the view that the original agreement created a risk for the university in an age in which universities are expected to be in a position of accountability for the management of on-campus bars’ policies.
“Whatever may have been the situation in the late 1970s, the university cannot in the twenty-first century delegate its ultimate responsibility for the proper operation of an on-campus bar to an arms-length body such as the WBOM,” said President William Lahey. Under the new agreement, that ultimate responsibility is placed directly with the university.
Following a process of review and consultation, a new partnership agreement was recently signed by Lahey and (now past-) President of the KSU, Nick Harris. Under the new agreement, operation of the Wardroom will now officially be governed by the KSU.
“I’m so proud that the university and the student union can move forward together in partnership,” said Harris. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the successive generations of student leaders, alumni and community members who have built the Wardroom into the space that we know and love. It makes me happy that I could do my part to build onto that success.”
The new agreement is very similar to existing agreements between the university and the King’s Co-op Bookstore as well as the Galley Café. It also includes necessary provisions with respect to the Wardroom’s business as a bar/pub and the associated risks. The role of the alumni in the Wardroom’s governance has been retained. The WBOM will be replaced by the Wardroom Advisory Committee (WAC). Like the WBOM, the WAC will bring together representatives of all constituencies, including alumni, to participate in the governance of the Wardroom as a vital community space for all. Its advisory jurisdiction will cover all the matters that were within the managerial jurisdiction of the WBOM.
Lahey said the new agreement is a good example of important collaborative work between the KSU and the university. “The Wardroom is such an important place for the King’s community, whether it’s part of your daily life, or a place that shines brightest for you as a memory. It is fitting that the new agreement affirms the Wardroom’s ongoing status as a place for the entire community, while at the same time, providing it with a more workable governance framework.”
Hero, L-R: President William Lahey, Bursar Bonnie Sands, Dean of Students Katie Merwin, outgoing President of the King’s Students’ Union Nick Harris, incoming President of the King’s Students’ Union Victoria Gibbs. Photo by Adams Photography