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Who’s on aux? Spencer Grill workers serve up fresh vibes

Brisa Zielina
From left: Amika Matteson `26, Ché Glenn `26 and Emily Terrell work together on a shift at the Spencer Grill, presumably with fire music playing in the background.

The Spencer Grill, a known social and culinary hub on campus, has an unspoken mastermind in its midst. In the hustle and bustle of the Grill’s kitchen, workers have one chance at absolute power — being entrusted with the aux, or choice of music. In a way, whoever takes the aux is given direct control over the atmosphere, or the vibe, if you will, of the Spencer Grill. 

Grill worker Bethle Ayele `27 has few reservations about taking charge of the aux cord. “It’s awkward to say, ‘Hey, can you get off, so I can play better and cooler music?’ But sometimes I’m not really scared of social interactions like that,” she said. 

When she does occasionally request the aux from others, she does so to ensure a diverse musical experience. It is all about maintaining a balance between personal preferences and catering to the diverse tastes of the students.

Gus Braun `25 blocks out the ambient music coming from the Spencer Grill, opting instead to play his own music through his AirPods while he studies. (Brisa Zielina)

Retail operations supervisor Collin Mochal explained that students currently rotate shifts every two hours, which allows students priority in controlling and delegating the aux. “I typically give students priority since I don’t really like the silence and I feel like the lounge is more of an upbeat area,” Mochal said. “If no students take it in the first 15-20 minutes, then whoever wants it is basically free to grab it.”

Embracing the unspoken privilege, Ayele noted the versatility of the role, switching between “ghetto shit” like “Hellcats SRTs” by Sexyy Red when she wants to dance in the back and creating a “cozy cafe vibe” with jazz, melodic rap or R&B.

Ayele said, “Depending on the shift, I’m playing [music] for me, but other times you want to make the whole place bop with you. It’s nice to feel like everyone likes your music.” 

Depending on the shift, I’m playing [music] for me, but other times you want to make the whole place bop with you. It’s nice to feel like everyone likes your music.

— Bethle Ayele `27

Mairenys Ramos `24, who normally works the closing shift, tries to bring a different energy to the mix. “I like to play my Spanish music. In my opinion, it’s more energetic and I’d say it’s a fun vibe. Usually, because I work with the closing shift, I just try to play music that isn’t really in everyone’s everyday listening,” she said.

Kade Dolphin `24, a frequent visitor to the Grill for studying, emphasized the impact of the music on the study atmosphere.

“The music played in the Grill really helps set the vibes for studying. They play a lot of pop, indie and occasionally rap, and I think that, because the music is run by other students, it feels more in tune with what the atmosphere needs,” Kade said. “I feel like the hours I spend in the Grill each day are especially productive when they are playing indie songs, just because it feels more chill, relaxed and just makes me feel comfortable.”

Update 02/07/24 11:24 AM –This article has been updated to remove a quote that was mistakenly attributed. 

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About the Contributors
Marcy Cassidy Mapp
Marcy Cassidy Mapp, Features Editor
Marcy Cassidy-Mapp is a fourth-year psychology major with a concentration in education studies. Originally from Jackson, Mississippi, she enjoys complaining about fictional creatures. Marcy's favorite place is the Smithsonian postal museum.
Brisa Zielina
Brisa Zielina, Staff Photographer
Brisa Zielina is a first year and an aspiring Theater major with a concentration in American Studies from Los Angeles, California. She loves singing and acting and uses the word “slay” way too often. When she’s not slaying the day, she’s probably in rehearsal or studying on the third floor of the HSSC. If you see her around campus, say howdy, she’s always happy to make new friends!
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