Tensions are percolating at the University of Victoria.
Stop Starbucks UVic, a club with a Facebook site featuring more than 500 likes is protesting the introduction of Starbucks into their campus to replace Finnerty Express Café in the fall of 2019.
“Starbucks will replace the locally-sourced Finnerty Express beneath the UVic bookstore, which will compromise the University’s ability to control what food and beverages are served to students” the organizations statement reads. “This replacement will remove a large number of affordable, locally produced foods from the UVic campus.”
Their student-lead club asked for anonymity prefering to act as a “cohesion collective of students,” a spokesperson told us on the phone they also feared the potential of repercussion from UVic. Their Facebook site features a banner that reads “Keep Corporate Coffee Off Campus.” UVic’s director of of campus operations said Starbucks is what the majority have asked for.
“UVic’s customer base of students, faculty, staff and campus visitors has consistently voiced a preference through surveys, advisory committees, and focus groups that select brands are desired to complement the range of self-operated food locations,” said director of campus operations Jim Forbes. “Starbucks has consistently ranked as one of three brands that was lacking on our campus.”
He went on to say UVic has purchased a licensed Starbucks franchise to be self-operated by the university and that all current and new employees will remain unionized. He also expects to see a “significant increase” of on-campus student employment at the new Starbucks location.
“Our research with other universities with Starbucks locations including UBC, SFU and VIU, have all returned positive feedback regarding an enhanced student experience,” he continued. “We are very supportive of Saltspring Coffee and the local bakeries whom we will have continue to support. While Saltspring Coffee will transition away from the Bookstore location… we are exploring opportunities that will see the Saltspring brand remain on campus.”
Lone Tree Bakery, who supplies baked goods for Finnerty Express Café released a statement through Stop Starbucks UVic, saying they don’t feel it is fair that conglomerates are trying to displace their business with a disregard for the communities right to sustainable and local food.
“UVic is one of our largest clients and this shift as such has the potential to put us out of business,” the statement read. “To lose one of our largest clients is devastating.”
Stop Starbucks UVic is circulating a template for a letter to Director of Campus Services Jim Forbes for anyone interested in sending him a letter to protest the change