Award-winning AIT student bar Scribes has closed its doors after 15 years, citing difficult trading conditions.
The bar ceased trading last Friday, and the Students Union now plans to “refocus” the space as a state-of-the-art student social hub.
The college management has pledged €200,000 towards revamping the space for students.
AIT Students Union president Daniel Coulter, who was re-elected yesterday for the coming academic year, says the decision to close the bar was not taken lightly.
“Scribes has been an institution within AIT for many years. However the trading performance of Scribes has weakened significantly over the past two years. AITSU did everything in its power to help generate business for Scribes this year in the hope that it could be reinvigorated through big events such as Freshers Week, Rock the Hall, RAG Week, theme nights, and many other parties.
“Unfortunately, the trading conditions for Scribes remained difficult and continuing to trade ultimately became unsustainable. It is a sad occasion for all involved to see the doors of Scribes closed.”
Mr Coulter says that the drinking culture among students has changed significantly in recent years, and the bar was simply not being used by students.
“Thirty per cent of the student body are mature students, and we have a large number of international students. A lot of students are also into sports and fitness, many commute from home... students simply don’t have the money to go out either. Some nights there would be just four or five people in Scribes,” he said.
He acknowledges there is work to be done by the Students Union to tackle the growing culture of drinking at home. However he feels the planned social hub will have a broader appeal among students.
“Students in the 1990s paid a levy to open Scribes, and it will always remain a student space. We are hoping the social hub will be the best of its kind in the country. We will be asking students what they would like to see in the space; we would like it to cater to the needs of the widest possible range of students,” he says.
Since the decision to close the bar was announced, the Students Union has come under fire on social media, particularly from past students, for not doing more to keep Scribes open. However Mr Coulter feels such criticism is unfair.
“Some utterly unfounded criticism has been directed toward AITSU as a result of the closure of Scribes. AITSU did what it could over the past two years to promote a recovery for Scribes. Ultimately however, AITSU’s responsibility to the students prevents it from sticking its head in the sand regarding the trading position.
“Doubtless there will be some frustrations in the interim. Nonetheless the programme of redevelopment will have the students’ interests at heart,” he adds.