If you’re looking for a place to study, read or get your caffeine fix in preparation for a long night, Rodrigue’s Coffee House is open to all. Opened in 1991, Rodrigue’s Coffee House is the only on-campus club that provides a daily, tangible service to all members of the Fordham community through low-priced, organic and Fair-Trade coffee drinks as well as an open community space.
Located between Queen’s Court and Alumni Court South, Rodrigue’s Coffee House –sometimes referred to succinctly as “Rod’s”– is maintained entirely by volunteer student workers and headed by an elected executive board. Each member of the club must volunteer to work four hours a week in the coffee house and attend a weekly meeting on Sunday nights.
Besides volunteering her time as a regular member, Rachel Dougherty, FCRH ’15, said her role as Co-President consists of “coordinating the general logistics of the coffee shop and events as well as perpetuating the community and personal feel of Rodrigue’s.”
Along with her other Co-President Alex Minikes, FCRH ‘14, Vice President Paul Ross, FCRH ’15, Secretary Sarah Champlin, FCRH ‘16, Treasurer Tom Geiser, GSB ’15, and Publicist Kaitlyn Flanagan, GSB ’15, the Rodrigue’s executive board ensures that the space is run efficiently and implements measures voted for by the general board of student workers. Those measures include the delegation of the semester budget and use of the space.
Rodrigue’s Coffee House hosts a variety of events including open mics, poetry readings, film viewings and concerts, all of which are free for the Fordham community to attend. So far this semester, there have been two concerts and an open mic night, and for all three evenings the building was filled to capacity.
Geiser said, “Rod’s provides an alternative hangout spot and meeting place for students and professors. We also attempt to provide an outlet for alternative arts and culture.” In addition to being a space for students to study and meet with friends, several clubs hold their weekly meetings there, including The Ampersand and Women’s Empowerment. Faculty members can also get in on the action, with Ph.D. candidate Louie Dean Valencia saying that he views the building as “a great place to interact with undergrads and informally converse.”
Slated for later in the semester are even more concerts, more open mic nights, a monthly movie viewing for the Justice Film Series, professor lectures and even classes such as one taught this past week by freshman Dean Robert Parmach for Jogue’s freshmen.
Even though Rod’s strives to maintain an atmosphere of acceptance and diversity, the coffee house is unfortunately plagued by the idea that the building houses an exclusive club that is largely uninviting. Sarah Lundell, FCRH ’17, says that the negative sentiment is one shared by a number of students. “Most of my friends think it’s exclusive and scary to go into.”
When asked if she shares the same view as her friends, Lundell responded, “Absolutely not, everyone who works here is super welcoming and it’s a warm, friendly environment.”
Sarah has felt so welcomed by the club that she now spends about five hours a day inside the building, as well as volunteering as a worker. Returning volunteer Tim Livingston, FCRH ’16, says he understands the thought that the people inside Rod’s are “unfriendly hipsters,” but he maintains that the worst thing about the club is the fallibility of the volunteers: “I’ve screwed up my fair share of iced cappuccinos,” Livingston said.
The drinks served inside of Rodrigue’s might not be perfect, but the club has found success by providing honest service and striving to engage with the Fordham community as a whole. Rod’s is considered a home-away-from-home for a large group of student volunteers, a number of regulars and even some Fordham Prep students. Even if you are fine with considering your dorm or apartment your home and do not need another, you should still stop in to Rodrigue’s Coffee House for a drink or merely a place to sit. Of the couches, Champlin says, “I haven’t found a comfier place to sit on campus, including my own bed.”