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December 11, 2017

UMass student begins petition to “stop the Starbucks on campus”

Shaina Mishkin/Collegian

While premium coffee connoisseurs may be relishing the addition of Starbucks Coffee products to the new Integrated Science Café, some students are concerned with what their presence could mean for student cooperatives and businesses.

University of Massachusetts sophomore Laura Pinkerton, a co-manager at People’s Market, located in the Student Union, began an online petition via asking the University to reconsider its decision to sell Starbucks goods on campus.

The petition is titled “University of Massachusetts Amherst: Stop the Starbucks on campus.”

“Although these venues are technically not corporate Starbucks, but owned by the University, they are still aligned with a larger corporation,” the petition reads. “Sign this petition to stop the expanding of an already large corporation and support local and student businesses and the entire UMass community.”

“I’m not against Starbucks necessarily, but I’m against UMass supporting it,” Pinkerton said.

“We’re not fighting against Starbucks, we’re fighting for our community,” said junior Lynn Tran, also a co-manager at People’s Market. “The most common misconception is that we hate Starbucks, but really we just want to do what’s best for the community.”

UMass Dining Services’ Assistant Retail Dining Manager Van Sullivan said the University is “not affiliated with Starbucks” and merely buys and sells Starbucks products at the ISB Cafe. UMass, he said, has a “fair” agreement with Starbucks as opposed to a financial contract.

“There was no plot to put Starbucks all over campus,” Sullivan said. “People wanted Starbucks coffee, we found a good way to do that and stay out of the Starbucks franchise conversation.”

Sullivan said that though there is “no long term plan to add” more on-campus venues featuring Starbucks products, “obviously, if it’s successful it could potentially grow.”

There was a “pretty loud demand” for Starbucks products on campus, according to Sullivan. Dining Services gauges such demand through student interactions, such as surveys, in which there was a “pretty consistent theme” regarding student interest in Starbucks on campus, he said.

Tran says that UMass supporting Starbucks is a “slap in the face.” By supporting Starbucks, she said, student businesses are being ignored.

“UMass has this awesome thing, the Center for Student Business, this awesome program that gets students out in a unique way,” said Daniel Fennell, a co-manager at Greeno Sub Shop and member of the Board of Student Businesses. “You get to learn how to run a business inside and outside, and it’s a great educational opportunity. I’d like to see that expand rather than see new space used to promote corporate coffee that serves to benefit the University financially.”

Sophomore Joanna Zhu, a co-manager at People’s Market and member of the Student Labor Action Project, said that “corporatizing” does not send the right message to students and to the public about how to fund education. Starbucks being given a home on campus perpetuates the problem, she said.

Sullivan said he thinks “a lot of times, students perceive the administration as guilty,” regarding University business practices.

“I just think it’s disrespectful, because we live in such a special community in the Valley where local businesses are prized,” Pinkerton said. “People are supported for their local businesses. We live in an area where there’s agriculture all around us.”

“I feel like we should celebrate what we have,” she added.

Pinkerton said that at a cooperative, everyone is a co-manager and everyone has an equal say in the business, much unlike the hierarchy of most corporate businesses.

“Everyone is just as valuable as a member as anyone else,” she said. “We all run it together, and we’re all equal.”

The petition currently has a little more than 630 signatures, with a goal of 1,000 signatures needed to complete the petition. Pinkerton said the petition’s goal is not to collect a certain number of signatures, however, but to raise awareness about the movement on campus.

“I’d like to potentially sit down with administrators and have my voice heard and other student businesses’ voices heard,” she said. “People don’t even have to be involved in student businesses, but just to have some kind of rally (around this issue).”

Plans past the petition are uncertain because potential action is contingent on its results, according to Bayley Blaisdell, a co-manager at Greeno Sub Shop. Blaisdell is also a member of a sub-committee on the Board of Student Businesses focusing on Starbucks’ presence at UMass and the problems associated with it.

“One of the really important things about … the whole pro-student business idea is to get people to understand how cool student business is and how great it would be for other student businesses to form,” Blaisdell said.

She added that UMass does not allow student businesses such as the People’s Market to accept meal exchange, more commonly known as Your Campus Meal Plan (YCMP) swipes, despite lobbying for a long time.

The UMass Dining website states that meal exchanges can be used at any of their retail operations with a value of $9.50. Students may use YCMP swipes at the ISB Cafe, which falls under this umbrella of “retail operations,” for Starbucks products.

“As far as we can tell … Starbucks doesn’t provide meals any more than People’s Market,” Blaisdell said.

Sullivan encouraged those with concerns to address them with his office, saying, “If someone’s concerned about it, then I’d love to hear about it,” and adding that he is “99 percent sure” that he “would have the same concerns.”

“If I’m shutting one venue down to open another, then that’s not helping anybody,” Sullivan added. “We’re not trying to create the evil empire and do crazy stuff.”

Chelsie Field contributed to this report.

Patrick Hoff can be reached at


19 Responses to “UMass student begins petition to “stop the Starbucks on campus””
  1. Kris says:

    If not for this article, I wouldn’t have known Starbucks was on campus… Can’t wait to buy my coffee there!

  2. Matt says:

    Hey Kris, I can’t wait for you to buy your coffee there either!

  3. Alyssa says:

    Welp, if students want Starbucks coffee, then I’m glad they get it. I just wish we still had Rao’s rather than the People’s Choice or whatever it is now.

  4. Hambinodabeeno says:

    Maybe if People’s Market didn’t serve hot pee and pass it off as coffee… then students woulden’t demand Starbucks.

  5. Will says:

    What an absolute rubbish petition. It’s more appalling that there aren’t MORE corporate food options on this campus.

  6. Dr Watson says:

    Bring in the bucks! Teach these students how the real world works and introduce competition.

  7. Alex says:

    After reading this article, I wanted bang my head against a wall. The idea of hiding behind the university like a four year old hiding behind his mother in order to remove competition sickens me.First of all, the majority of students wanted “mainstream” coffee for as long as anyone can remember, so nobody can take this petition seriously because it only caters to the small businesses on campus. Secondly, if you want to sell more coffee and make more money, then advertise, make your coffee better, or sell your coffee for lower prices. The idea of trying to get the University to forcefully remove the products that one organization sells makes you look like a liberal idiot. It’s reasons like this article that I can’t take The Daily Collegian seriously.

  8. Anna says:

    To Alex:
    Have you ever been to People’s Market? Where else on campus can you get coffee for $1.25 and iced coffee for $1.50? I challenge you to go to People’s Market and have a coffee and tell me it tastes bad. People’s is the last place on this campus who has to “lower” any prices…are you getting the same $4.00?+ coffee at the library as everyone else?

    Secondly, this article was terribly written in order to make the wonderful co-managers look like “four year olds hiding behind his mother”… Why don’t you guys actually walk into the market and decide for yourself. The way this article was presented in a way that makes Sullivan look like a victim.

  9. mason says:

    A function of capitalism is that firms regularly petition the government to effect their competition, when a large firm tries to merge with another, the main opponent is not consumers but competing firms. Sprint spent millions of dollars and lobbied the FTC to prevent the merger of t-mobile and att; google informed the European trade commission that Microsoft had violated it’s trust agreement resulting in a near billion dollar fine. Price fixing in the airline industry was exposed by airblue, health insurance companies fund non-profits to discourage tobacco use and so on.

    It’s a perfectly normal part of capitalism to discourage competitors from reducing their profit. Why should students buy Starbucks coffee when they can buy coffee similar in quality and at a lower price and where the money from that coffee directly benefits students. The people’s market provides wages, common ownership and a valuable hands experience managing and operating a business for students with a bottom line focus and philosophy on benefiting us.

  10. Starbucks says:

    Let’s “support” local student businesses by preventing people from going anywhere else. If you really wanted to support them, you’d expose them to competition. If Starbucks starts rapidly eating away at the market share, you’re providing them with information that they (obviously) didn’t have before: that their coffee sucks.
    “Supporting” local student businesses all sounds well and good until you realize that the student body – including many who don’t participate in the student businesses – are bearing the costs. These costs include less choice, a lower quality product (because it’s not exposed to competition), and the lost revenue from the Starbucks that could go towards improving other parts of the college.

  11. mike says:

    We need dunkies.


  12. Starbucks Customer says:

    After hearing about this ridiculous petition, I’ve made it a point to go to Starbucks more. Their coffee is better, plain and simple. I don’t want them leaving campus. It’s not like they’re bringing in a bunch of CEOs to work there, it’s student jobs. It’s convenient, it’s quick (unlike People’s Market, which takes FOREVER for even a simple order) and it makes students happy.

  13. H. B. says:

    @Starbucks Customer Have you ever been in the People’s Market? Last time I checked, their coffee is self-serve. That’s quicker than Starbucks!

  14. Liz says:

    How sad for all of you that don’t support small business on campus. When you go out into the “real” world after graduation & continue to support “big” business such as Starbucks, Wallmart etc. , small business will continue to suffer & you’ll have contributed to their demise. Totally blown away by all the negative opinions…shame on you!
    Liz Bayer

  15. Ms. Finda Realcause says:

    When did our national pastime become protesting? Because really, it’s more common than baseball.

    And when did capitalism become evil? Honey, if another student-run business wants to come in, no one is stopping them. Then there’s a little thing called free market that takes over where students can choose where they want to buy from based on taste, cost, location, and atmosphere. If a new student-run business can hack it, good for them. Until then, I like my soy java chip fraps.

  16. Starbucks Fan says:

    I love that we sell Starbucks products here at UMass. I think it’s high time that we started having quality brands here on campus. Personally, it’s comforting to know that my university listened to me when I responded to a survey with the need for a Starbucks on campus. Best coffee in America. To the people at the Market, Welcome to corporate America. Learn to compete or get eaten.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Typical Americana who care more about pleasure than what’s right.

  18. Dr Watson says:

    Competition and progress by constantly planning and becoming better, rather than hiding? That Americana?

  19. John says:

    People’s Market: they do a good job, overall.

    Greeno Sub Shop: takes 30-40 mins to get a sub, run out of ingredients at times. Co-Op failure. get a boss in there that demands people get things done- or at least tell your customers you can’t get things done in a respectable amount of time.

    Competition: Places to get a cup of joe near Morill/Franklin/ISB- that side of campus has NO GOOD COFFEE. Morill Cafe serves illy coffee- but they do a poor job brewing/cleaning. Bring on the competition: it’ll improve all!

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