UC Hastings Rallies to Support Its Community Amid COVID-19

Think of it as feeding those who made the soup that fed your soul.

With on-campus activity severely curtailed due to coronavirus-related safety precautions, the beloved Law Café at UC Hastings has closed two months ahead of its normal seasonal schedule, announcing that it made the difficult decision to lay off its hourly employees.

True to form, the UC Hastings community responded to a GoFundMe campaign to help support the workers. In less than 24 hours, thousands of dollars in donations poured in, from $25 contributions to much larger gifts from students, staff, faculty, alums and anonymous donors.

A fixture on campus since 1990, the Law Café ordinarily serves salads, sandwiches, (this writer is partial to the Sonoma on Dutch Crunch) and—perhaps most important—soup, the affordable and comforting staple of any law student’s daily existence.

Owners Ali Givechi and Shazi Shayesteh were overwhelmed by the outpouring. They posted:

“A BIG warm thank you to our @UCHastingsLaw family for the unwavering support that has been pouring in overnight for our beloved staff. Your generosity will go a long way & your kindness will not go unnoticed.”

Ariane Mohamadi ’10 tweeted: “The Hastings law cafe has some of the best people around. If you’re a part of the Hastings community, you’ve probably had their soup, joked with their staff, drank their coffee. They took care of us during some of the most stressful times and we should take care of them.”

Erin Kuka ’10 tweeted: “Happy to donate in honor of all the coffees that got me through law school. Also, workers please check into unemployment insurance programs the state enhanced for Covid – you likely qualify for some help.”

After deciding to transition to a virtual environment for most academic and administrative operations, UC Hastings waived the Law Café’s rent for the rest of the semester. “While the café typically shuts down during the summer, this early springtime closing creates sudden hardship,” said CFO David Seward. “The Law Café has been part of the Hastings community since well before my time. We need to be there when they need help. That’s the kind of community we are,” said Seward, whose favorite dish is the chicken kabob.

Seward said he’s pleased but not surprised to see the enthusiastic response to the GoFundMe campaign. “It’s another great example,” he said, “of the bonds and loyalties that make Hastings such a special place.”