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Letter to the Editor: Suites Eating Clubs offer potential for business education

To the Editor:

I ran one of the Suites Eating Clubs during my senior year (1987), and I’m disappointed that the University is making this change.

I’d like to point out that the opportunity of running an Eating Club is one of the few real-life business lessons you can learn at school. It was similar to running a restaurant, and you learn more from the day-to-day operations of a business than you do in any classroom.

In fact, running the Eating Club was one of the experiences that triggered my transition from engineering into business. While I got my degree at Stanford engineering, I went on to get my MBA, obtained my CPA in public accounting and continued to progress my finance career.

Without a doubt, one of the seminal experiences which started that progression was running one of the Suites Eating Clubs at Stanford.

It piqued my interest in business and provided me the opportunity to explore them with limited risk. I’ve long believed education takes many forms and that you learn as much outside the classroom as inside, and it’s unfortunate that the University it taking away one of those outside-the-classroom learning experiences from its students.

I don’t know of any other opportunity in which an undergraduate with little or no background in food service could run a small business, get exposure to the real world challenges and perhaps find a career path. While I understand there are risks that perhaps the University is concerned about, I’d argue that with the right controls and oversight, there should have been a solution that mitigated the risks yet retained the ability to have student management, and learning, which I believe is the University’s mission.

Tom Austin ‘87

Vice President, Segment CFO | EES & Display Segments | Applied Materials