In each “Behind the Scenes” segment, Village Media's Scott Sexsmith sits down with one of our local journalists to talk about the story behind the story.
These interviews are designed to help you better understand how our community-based reporters gather the information that lands in your local news feed.
Today's spotlight is on Sudbury.com's Heidi Ulrichsen, whose story 'Laurentian community shocked by indefinite closure of 60-year-old pub' was published on August 24, 2023.
Here's the original story if you need to catch up:
Laurentian University’s Pub DownUnder, which has a history going back 60 years, has been closed “indefinitely,” according to a social media post by one of the university’s student unions.
The Students’ General Association (SGA), which operated the on-campus pub, made the announcement in a written statement on its Facebook page Aug. 22, just weeks before the fall term is due to begin.
“It is with a heavy heart that we inform our community that due to challenging circumstances, we have made the difficult decision to indefinitely close the Pub Downunder,” said the written statement.
“It will no longer be operational, effective immediately. This decision hasn’t been taken lightly. There have been numerous efforts to reevaluate our operations and structure but after much discussion, the board of directors of the SGA has taken the final decision.
“We recognize this as a loss to our community, who have enjoyed the pub for many years, and to incoming students who were looking forward to spending time there.
“We want to thank everyone who has ever supported the pub and say a special thank you to Nick, and all of the pub staff, for their service to our community over the years. They will all be missed.”
Sudbury.com reached out to the Students’ General Association to get more information on this decision.
We received in response an emailed statement from Zareen Brown, the SGA’s vice-president of education, who is also taking on the role of interim president.
The statement from Brown said the student union’s board of directors would be meeting in the coming days “to discuss this matter further.
“More information, including a written statement, will become available to the public at our earliest convenience,” she said. “Thank you for your understanding.”
When we spoke to Brown briefly on the phone, she deferred further comment at this time to the future written statement. Sudbury.com will bring you that information if and when it is made public.
The SGA’s website said the Pub DownUnder, located under the Great Hall in the Parker Building, is a “cozy bar” and the “hot spot for student and faculty interaction and famous for our waffle fries.
“We serve a classic list of pub-friendly food and an impressive variety of beer, wine and spirits,” the website goes on to say.
Sudbury.com reached out to Laurentian University to speak to an administrator about the situation, including what actions the university plans to take, and what impact the closure will have on food services.
A spokesperson for the university said LU’s director of housing and food services, Ben Demianiuk, was not available for an interview as he prepares for the start of the school year.
However, he also provided an emailed statement.
"We respect the decision made by the SGA and will continue to collaborate with student leaders on future projects,” said Demianiuk’s statement.
“With respect to food services as a whole, the Pub represented a small percentage of overall food sales on campus (~two per cent), so we're confident that students can be served by Subway, Blends & Curries, or the Dining Hall, which are all in the same building.
“We are looking forward to next week's opening of Birch Bark Coffee, which will have two locations on campus."
The post about the closure to the Laurentian Alumni Facebook page elicited more than 100 comments from group members expressing shock and disappointment at the closure. And while the statement from the director of housing and food services highlighted other on-campus amenities that remain operational, several of the alumni criticized LU for what they say is a lack of options on campus for food, snacks and coffee.