Three Years After the Opening of Hunter’s Starbucks, the Pandemic Took Away Student Concern

Starbucks entrance from campus.

Starbucks entrance from campus. 

Three years after the opening of the Starbucks on campus, the pandemic and the new wave of students vanished concerns about the coffee giant’s presence. From the multiple promises made by Eija Ayravainen the dean of student affairs on paper when the board voted in favor of having the franchise on campus, only a few have translated into reality. 

The renting of an on campus space to a Starbucks caused much back and forth between students and the administration in 2020 when they voted to open it. The student body argued there is another Starbucks three blocks away on Lexington Ave; the coffee is expensive, most students can’t afford it, and that coffee is already being sold on campus. They also said that the space could be given to students to utilize with their art projects, presenting fairs like they have done before to display their work.

During the meeting of the Board of Trustees on February 3, 2020, Ayravainen stated that “Hunter College will be working with Starbucks to hire students and increase the seating area, as well as to collaborate with the college on scholarships and food pantry donations.” She also said that Hunter looked for an option that would provide students with another food option, jobs, and a place to sit and gather and that the space is commercial and has been traditionally used as such as one of the reasons why they voted to rent the space out to the coffee franchise. 

Having no choice, students have succumbed to Starbucks, partly because a pandemic wiped their concerns which were represented through FREE CUNY, a coalition of students, staff, and faculty working for fairness, on numerous protests. And most of the current students are oblivious to the pushback the proposal got in May of 2019, when they first started protesting. 

Starbucks provides around 55 seats for the public which some students say they use. “Sitting here with friends is also very nice to study, especially downstairs. I really love downstairs; definitely better than the library,” said Edina Graca, a junior. 

Others enjoy the idea of being able to get a beverage but not to sit and study there. “You never know who can come into Starbucks, and they can sometimes be really loud,” said Melinda Tirado, a freshman who likes buying drinks at Starbucks.

Eva Nehring, Starbucks manager, stated “ I am not sure,” when asked how many Hunter students are currently employed. When one of the employees was asked, the response was “ two max,” he didn’t feel comfortable giving his full name. Nehring suggested Starbucks press phone number as the proper channel to inquire about students’ employment opportunities and how many students are currently employed. There were no responses to the questions by either phone or email.

When asked to clarify Starbucks’s role in scholarships and job opportunities Vince DiMiceli, assistant vice president of communications at Hunter College said, “Regarding Starbucks holding Job Fairs, they have hosted job application fairs, and we do think they have hired people.”  The Office of Communications didn’t provide a definite answer to the question. 

After emails, phone calls, and voice messages made to Miesha Smith the director of student life at Hunter College, overseeing the food pantry inquiring about the promises made by Ayravainen regarding Starbucks donations to the food pantry. DiMiceli stated, “The food pantry does not accept food donations. All the food comes through a partnership with the Food Bank of NY. However, Starbucks has offered things such as providing bags to the pantry.”


Downstairs Starbucks on Hunter campus on Oct.23 afternoon

Downstairs Starbucks on Hunter campus. 

Hunter wanted to provide students with another food option through the coffee franchise. From the students interviewed on the hallways more than half complained the food selection wasn’t always available; they were usually sold out of pastries. Some students think it is convenient, others think it takes too long, some like having the option to run downstairs, and others think it is too expensive. “I don’t go there too often; Starbucks is generally expensive, and I don’t have that much money,” said Kevin Sanchez, a freshman.

Comments are closed.