A university cafe that has become an important part of campus social life for students and staff over the past three decades is closing, largely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bendigo Student Association has announced Sweeney's Cafe, located on the La Trobe University campus in Flora Hill, will no longer operate.
In a written announcement, union president Will Griffin and chief executive officer Mitch Trevena said the decision to close the cafe after 32 years was made with "a deep sense of sadness".
"With no ability to trade and no end in sight as to when campus life shall return to a level that would make it viable to operate, Sweeney's cannot recover," they said.
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Ms Trevena said the cafe had "very much been the heart of the campus".
The university campus has been closed since late March, and it is expected only students with essential face-to-face learning components will be allowed to return in semester two.
The impending merger of the Bendigo Student Association with other student representative organisations has also played a role in the decision.
The cafe is owned and operated by the Bendigo Student Association.
Ms Trevena told the Bendigo Advertiser it was not yet established what form the new student organisation would take, and this would influence its ability to inherit assets and liabilities.
But she said the closure did not mean students on campus next year would lose out.
"There is hope that possibly the new student association will be in a position to negotiate with the university and reopen [a new cafe] next year," Ms Trevena said.
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A La Trobe spokesperson said the university was saddened to hear the news.
"Sweeney's Cafe has not only contributed significantly to campus life by bringing staff and students together through shared food and social experiences, it has also employed hundreds of La Trobe students on a casual basis over the years," the spokesperson said.
Ms Trevena and Mr Griffin thanked current and former employees of the cafe.
"You form part of the history of LTUB campus life and you have ensured that Sweeney's holds a special place in the heart of the countless customers you have served," they said.
Another cafe on campus, Mug Shot Cafe, will remain open.
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