UVic student petition against campus Starbucks gains momentum; generates calls for a boycott
A petition demanding the University of Victoria re-thinks its decision to bring a Starbucks onto campus is gaining momentum online with more than 1,800 signatures.
The move, set for fall 2019, will push out the campus’ local café Finnerty Express, which serves Salt Spring Coffee and baked goods from a number of capital region suppliers.
“We wanted the university to know that not all students are behind this decision,” said Hannah Estabrook, a member of Stop Starbucks UVic.
“Something that we’re very interested in is keeping control within UVic’s hands and students’ hands to influence the ingredients that are being served within our various facilities and in the case of a franchise we actually lose that control, because all the ingredients are pre-set by them,” said another Stop Starbucks UVic member, Jessica Schellenberg.
But despite student fears over the preservation of the presence of local baked goods and coffee on campus, UVic officials say the items offered at Finnerty Express won’t disappear entirely.
“UVic will continue to support Salt Spring Coffee and the local bakeries following the Finnerty closure,” said the director of campus services, Jim Forbes, in a statement. “UVic is committed to transitioning Salt Spring Coffee and local bakery products to other retail locations on campus, which should increase their sales volume and availability as they transition from a single location.”
The university also says students and campus visitors have “regularly” asked for nationally branded coffee on campus. The Starbucks location would become the third chain on-campus. Booster Juice and Bento Box are the other two existing sites.
Still, students say they weren’t consulted.
“We have been talking with students. We haven’t heard anybody say that they saw that, including faculty. So we’ve got a lot of faculty and staff behind us as well, who argue that they haven’t been consulted,” said Jessica Schellenberg.
“I feel a little bit betrayed. I thought a lot about which university I wanted to attend based on attending an institution that was aligned with my values,” said Hannah Estabrook.
The environmental studies student moved across the country from Halifax to attend UVic. She said hearing from a recruiter that the university is against allowing external food corporations on campus swayed her decision to choose UVic.
“I valued the autonomy and control that that gives students to influence the type of food that is served on campus,” she said.
Forbes adds the Starbucks will be self-operated as an independent brand staffed by UVic employees – and it’s expected to double on-campus student job opportunities.
“The operation will also be accountable to all of the university’s sustainability principles and practices,” he said.
Roughly a year out from the opening of the planned Starbucks, Stop Starbucks UVic says people still have a choice to boycott the operation when it arrives.