By: Melissa Klein
While Starbucks may be known to some as the best coffee chain in the world, the students of CUNY Hunter College could not hate it more. Hunter students protested the proposal of the coffee stand being installed on campus, citing it unnecessary. “The coffee is overpriced,” said Briana Calderon Navarro, 25, a senior from Brooklyn. “Most students honestly can’t afford the coffee at Starbucks.”
According to several students, there is currently a coffee stand and café in the college’s cafeteria, not to mention the coffee vendors and the bookstore both across the street. In a city as expansive as New York City, Starbucks stores are also found at every block, further invalidating the need for another one at Hunter. So, what to do with all that space?
Navarro spoke for many when she said she would prefer the 2,000 square foot area, located at Lexington Avenue and 67th street, be converted into an art gallery or food pantry for the Hunter campus. Last spring, the student art show was apparently very successful, and has the promise of doing so once more. Other students weren’t as opinionated about the fate of the space, saying they just want a place to hang out. “We don’t need Starbucks. It wouldn’t be a student space. It would be a place for people on Lexington to get their coffee,” said Becca Tauscher, 25, a junior from Brooklyn. “Students are hanging out in the library because there isn’t anywhere else to just hang out.
Student representative and graduate student Leonard Blades sided with the students, citing that students should have been included in the development process, seeing as they are the recipients of this change. Blades also added the fact that there are many student-run clubs and organizations on campus that could have greatly benefitted from the space, should it have been a student union building. However, Kamalpreet Kaur, president of the Hunter Undergraduate Student Government, disagreed, saying, “we are not opposed to Starbucks moving into the space.” A Hunter spokeswoman said the revenue made from Starbucks’ rent would go to student programs.
The matter will be dealt with directly between the protesting students and the Hunter Board at an upcoming CUNY Board of Trustees meeting. The matter will be voted upon on Feb. 3.
The terms of the Starbucks deal would require Starbucks to pay $411,390 a year for the first five years. In exchange, Hunter would grant it 2,000 square feet on the ground level, and 1,000 square feet on a lower level. To sweeten the deal, the college is is also giving Starbucks an eight-month rent abatement to complete construction. “That’s a great deal for Starbucks,” said Stacey Kelz, president of Stacey-Robins Realty Corp. “The free rent period is also very generous.”