Welcome to The Ram Shack

September 05, 2014

By Melissa McCutchan

CIU Student Writer

While students were away for the summer, the campus store at Columbia International University underwent a major upgrade: new lights and floors, new clothing and food options, and even a new name.  As of Aug. 11, the “Ram Shack” is open for business.

The Ram Shack is taking the place of what was once the campus bookstore, where students would purchase books and other materials needed for classes.  CIU switched to an online textbook provider last spring, which cleared up space for the new campus store and café.  The area was partially renovated last spring, and the upgrade was completed over the summer.

“We wanted to make it more inviting for students, and less like a bookstore,” manager Kathy Weathersby explained.  “More like a coffee shop area.”

The Ram Shack offers clothing and basic school supplies, as well as pizza, chicken wings, a salad bar, and freshly made scones.  It also offers soft drinks, coffee, and pre-packaged “college essentials”, like Oreos and ramen noodles.  Students can grab a snack and study at a table, or catch up with a friend over coffee. 

“We were trying to give [the students] a more comfortable place to hang out in the evening, as well as more food options so they wouldn’t have to drive off campus for late-night snacking,” Weathersby said.

As part of their meal plans, students are also given $100 in “Ram Bucks”, a credit which is put on students’ ID cards and can be used to purchase any of the store’s diverse offerings.

“The best part has probably been the Ram Bucks,” junior Hannah Jones said.  “I can walk in, and even if I don’t have money on me, I can buy a scone or a coffee.”

In addition, CIU’s physical plant built a porch area in front of the store, where students can sit at tables to study or to socialize.

“I think the Ram Shack so far has been a really good place to get homework done, or to play a board game with friends,” junior Katie Parsons said.  “It seems like a relaxed atmosphere, so you can get homework done, or people can play a board game and enjoy themselves.”

Though the major renovations are complete, the management is looking for student input for how the store can be improved. 

“Students will come in and ask, ‘Do you have this or that?’ and we’ll say, ‘No, but we can see if we can get it,’” Weathersby said.  “We’re trying to listen to what the students want.”