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Monday, Apr 22, 2024

SGA unanimously votes to ban Starbucks on campus, pending Dining Services review

Wilson Café currently serves Starbucks coffee products.
Wilson Café currently serves Starbucks coffee products.

The Student Government Association (SGA) passed a resolution at the end of J-Term to replace the Starbucks products on campus with those of a local Vermont business, which is still to be determined. Dining Services intends to gather student feedback in collaboration with the SGA in order to make a decision regarding its Wilson Café coffee products.

Sponsored by SGA President Abed Abbas ’24 and written by Joshua Glucksman ’24.5, the resolution was unanimously passed on Jan. 22, with seven members voting in favor and two absences. 

The resolution calls for the college to reevaluate its purchasing and selling of Starbucks products in favor of a more locally-sourced, ethically consistent brand — one that, according to the resolution, “does not infringe on workers’ or indigenous rights.” 

In an email to The Campus, Abbas emphasized the importance of the college’s role as an employer, and its attendant duty of providing economic opportunities for local community businesses. 

“We are replacing Starbucks with a local provider that will benefit the area we live in,” Abbas wrote. “Middlebury is the largest employer in the county and we have a responsibility of benefitting its citizens.”

Abbas explained that the SGA is in communication with Dining Services about the process of implementing a new vendor in place of Starbucks products. 

Dan Detora, director of Dining Services, expressed that he and the team are generally supportive of following student preferences when feasible. 

“We sell quite a bit of Starbucks coffee, and I am not against a change if the student body as a whole is in agreement,” Detora wrote in an email to the Campus.

The SGA will first need to gather student input about the proposed initiative before any permanent changes are implemented. 

“I think the next step is for SGA to set up some taste testing with another coffee company and engage with the study body to make sure everyone is comfortable with the change,” Detora wrote. 

According to Detora’s understanding, a change in coffee vendor would affect only Wilson Café’s drip coffee and espresso, not the tea and pre-bottled beverages for sale in vending machines and at MiddExpress. 

Abbas wrote that the SGA has contacted Middlebury-based Iluminar Coffee, which is operated by former Middlebury students, as a possible new vendor.  

Middlebury alumni Grace Futral ’21.5 and former Middlebury student Daniel Gutierrez roast for both Iluminar Coffee and Bud’s Beans, which they acquired in 2022, out of a space in Middlebury’s Historic Marble Works District.

“We are planning for a coffee tasting event as well as a marketing campaign to introduce their amazing coffee to the student body,” Abbas added.  

According to fellow members of the SGA, the passing of the resolution to replace Starbucks products was a collaborative and generous one, involving a variety of student perspectives and generative dialogues. 

“It was a very positive process, I have been on SGA for two years and I have never seen something as pluralistic and inclusive as this was; through reason and dialogue, the Senate worked through our differences and agreed to implement an initiative that will save us money, keep our business local, and support student activism,” SGA Feb Senator Shane Silverman ’24.5 wrote in a message to The Campus. 

Glucksman, the author of the resolution and co-president of Students for Justice in Palestine — one of the student groups advocating for Starbucks’ replacement — expressed happiness about the passing of the resolution. 

“I was so grateful that the legislation I wrote was passed unanimously by the SGA, but I’m also not surprised because I know that this was the right choice for the student body,” Glucksman wrote in a message to The Campus.

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Glucksman was a member of the group of 30 Jewish Middlebury students who wrote an op-ed in The Campus in December calling for Middlebury students, faculty and staff to boycott all Starbucks products sold on campus. 

“When doing the research and thinking about asking SGA to make this switch, I felt confident and still do that the majority of students on this campus are either strongly in favor of switching to a local more ethical brand or our neutral on the issue, in the sense that they just want a diverse array of good tasting, cheap coffee on campus,” Glucksman added. 

Editor’s note: Managing Editor Katie Futterman ’24 contributed reporting to this article. Shane Silverman ’24 is an opinions editor for The Campus. 

Olivia Mueller

Olivia Mueller '24 (she/her) is a News Editor.

Previously an Arts and Culture editor, Olivia is an International Politics and Economics major with a Spanish minor. Outside of the Campus, she is a spin instructor for YouPower, an avid runner and hiker, and a member of the Middlebury Mischords a cappella group. 

Cole Chaudhari

Cole Chaudhari ’26 (he/him) is a News Editor. 

He previously served as a Copy Editor and as a Staff Writer. Cole is double-majoring in History and English & American Literatures and is interning this semester at the New England Review.