Student Bar to Officially Open as ‘The Ida’

30 January 2018

The student bar in Union House will officially open in orientation week as ‘The Ida’, in homage to the University’s first women’s room.

Until now, many students referred to the space as ‘Stop 2’. The naming of the bar followed the appointment of a bar manager, Tom Vana. This decision was approved by UMSU’s students’ council at the end of 2017.

UMSU President Desiree Cai confirmed that The Ida is set to be in operation by orientation week, which begins on 19 February.

“The plan so far is to have the bar open for certain limited hours and events during o-week,” Cai said.

“I expect it will be fully operational, in terms of serving drinks in week one. At this point, it looks like food offering in the bar may be more limited for the first few weeks.”

Located on level one of Union House, the bar space formerly operated as a commercial tenancy, occupied by Harajuku Crêpes until late 2015.

Since being returned to Melbourne University Student Union Ltd, a bar steering committee was formed by UMSU to oversee the eventual reopening of the bar as a student-run operation.

From 2016–2017, little progress had been made towards that goal—although the space had been bookable for licensed events.


Why The Ida?

According to Cai, ‘The Ida’ has been chosen to recognise the Princess Ida room—the first women’s room on the University of Melbourne campus, established in 1888.

At that time, the student union was exclusive to men. The Princess Ida club and room were established by female students to have a space of their own.

“The name is a throwback and homage to this history,” she said.

The Princess Ida was also the name of a popular comedy opera which opened in 1884, a likely source of inspiration behind the name.

A central plot point of the piece is a princess founding a women’s university to avoid her arranged marriage.

Currently, UMSU has humble hopes for the bar.

“At this point, we are unsure as to what kind of profit we will be making with the bar—our plan is to at least break even,” Cai said.

“In the case of making a surplus, the money will go back into the important activities and services that UMSU runs.”

Photo credit: The University of Melbourne

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