A “Grande” Change

A Grande Change

Starbucks_JennyPark

After years of financial hardship and decreased revenues, University Centers Advisory Board rightfully voted Espresso Roma out and Starbucks Coffee in

Tuesday’s University Centers Advisory Board vote that paved the way for the closing of Espresso Roma marks a few major milestones for Price Center. Besides the obvious predisposed popularity of the new tenant (a small coffee and tea chain called “Starbucks”), Price Center will finally be able to stop investing in of one of its biggest money pits. Apart from the UCSD Bookstore-owned Perks Coffee Shop, Roma was the only traditional coffee place in the center of campus.

For a variety of reasons, Roma’s popularity with the coffee-consuming constituency never really took off to a point where it was consistently turning a profit. Housing and Dining Services began selling several select Starbucks brews in most of its places and markets a few years ago while other spots on campus like Fairbanks Coffee, Peet’s Coffee & Tea and the Mandeville Cart have given students on the go enough reason to pass up on Roma. As a result, the business has never really been able to capture our hearts (or wallets) and its past time for it to be laid to rest.

There is no question that Starbucks will change the financial and social landscape of Price Center. The proximity to Geisel Library and its centrality within Price Center — let alone its massive international marketing supremacy — will attract far more patrons than Roma ever did, which will help Price Center maintain its operations. The added traffic will help breathe new life and energy into Price Center and may drive more social meet ups and study groups to take place there.

Some opponents of the move to bring Starbucks to campus have cited the Fair Trade issues that come with the coffee giant and say that a Starbucks on campus will violate the Fair Trade agreement championed by former UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox in 2009 and enacted in 2010. Cafe Roma — as well as all other coffee-sold, exclusively Fair Trade products in accordance with that agreement — and some are worried that a Starbucks on campus will violate it. However, after the agreement was updated earlier this year to allow Fair Trade certification by third-party organizations, both Starbucks and the other finalist to replace Roma (Sacramento-based Java City Eco-Grounds) qualify as “Fair Trade” as mandated by the UCSD agreement

Story continues below advertisement

Whether UCSD needs to revisit its commitment to Fair Trade policies is irrelevant in conversations because of the dire financial issues University Centers has been facing. In 2012, budget cuts mandated the closure of the Crafts Center in the Old Student Center and UCEN has repeatedly demonstrated a need for more funding to maintain and expand Price Center operations. A Spring 2013 referendum to raise student fees to pay for would have reopened the Crafts Center and possibly opened up more 24-hour areas of Price Center. Unfortunately for UCEN, students rejected the $11-per-quarter fee increase with over 61 percent of voters saying “Nay” or abstaining. As a result, money becomes a bigger factor for UCAB, and a common solution to the money and failing Roma problems came in Tall, Grande and Venti varieties. Starbucks’ mission on campus will not only be to put coffee in your mouth, but to help Price Center find its financial footing.

A.S. Council’s unanimously passed Nov. 20 resolution to increase Fair Trade enforcement on campus seems to be a veiled dig at Starbucks’ impending presence on campus. Additionally, nearly all the public input at Tuesday’s UCAB meeting seemed to support Java City (or rather, oppose Starbucks) but UCEN Cannot afford to let Fair Trade supersede fiscal responsibility in this case — particularly when Starbucks is still certified by an approved third party.

Those unhappy with the decision to put Starbucks on campus are in the minority. According to UCEN head Sharon Van Bruggen, an overwhelming 71 percent of respondents to the 2012 University Centers Retail Survey were in favor of adding the coffee giant to campus. The addition of Starbucks also reflects a big-picture effort by UCEN to make Price Center more of a one-stop shop for student needs and services — demonstrated with the early 2013 opening of Salon 101 and the planned 2014 opening of the D’Lush lounge next to Sunshine Market

Contract negotiations between Starbucks and UCEN will need to be finalized before the crowned siren makes her way to Price Center. But Roma needs to be shown the door as soon as possible, and Starbucks is the right choice at this point in time to replace it.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2505
$5000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2505
$5000
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The UCSD Guardian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *