A student-run, Marxist-inspired venue at UC San Diego called the Che Café Collective has been hit with allegations that it welcomes sexual predators, creating an unsafe space for regular patrons, the Guardian student newspaper reported.
The “radical” venue, which hosts performances like open mic nights and musical gigs, as well as houses a vegan deli, has served as ground zero for several sexual harassment and physical assault incidents over several years, according to interviews.
The situation boiled over recently after the venue posted an announcement on Instagram on Nov. 15 telling customers it was implementing a strict sobriety policy due to safety concerns.
“The post prompted over 800 comments, with some users alleging the venue of neglecting ongoing assault and boundary violations, uncovering larger problems that the collective has failed to address,” the Guardian reported.
A subsequent post from the collective addressed those concerns.
“We believe survivors. We take this seriously. We understand that we have failed you,” stated the Nov. 21 post, adding that the collective’s “restorative justice” and “brave space” policies will be retooled.
Three collective employees told the Guardian they are “heartbroken” about the accusations.
“We’ve actually been working pretty hard for the last three years to implement a brave space policy — rather than a safe space policy — and a restorative justice policy,” they said. “To hear that people have had bad experiences here was really disheartening, worrying, and concerning.”
This is not the first time the student-run venue named after the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara has faced controversy.
As The College Fix reported in 2015, the collective struggled to pay its rent and could not afford safety upgrades. It was bailed out by the public university, whose leaders agreed to shoulder an estimated $700,000 in repairs.
A Guardian editorial at the time argued that the café is a “money pit consistently plagued with safety issues. … Many students also don’t realize that the money being spent on the cafe’s renovation comes directly from student fees; in other words, we are collectively pouring almost one million dollars of our money into repairing a cooperative that the vast majority of us don’t even use.”
The café struggled since at least 2014, but some argued it’s a cultural institution with historical value and a unique sober atmosphere.