There will be a Starbucks at Hunter, confirmed Hunter College President Jennifer Raab in October in a video obtained by The Envoy.
“We are putting a Starbucks in order to help take all the money we make from the rent to help support students,” said Raab in the video, which was taken by an unidentified student activist on the third floor of the North building.
Starbucks has several locations near Hunter, including one on Third Avenue and 66th Street and another on Lexington Avenue and 63rd Street. There also used to be a vendor affiliated with Starbucks in Hunter College’s West lobby, in the space that is now occupied by Campus Cafe.
The new coffee shop is expected to be located on the first floor of Hunter College’s West building, in a space most recently rented out to The Canvas. The Canvas used the space as an art gallery, displaying work by Hunter students, among other artists.
First hints of the news came in the summer from Briana Calderon-Navarro, a student-artist and activist who displayed art at The Canvas. “I was coming down the escalator at school and I noticed that the gate to the gallery was open, so I went in very quickly just to see why the gate was open,” says Calderon-Navarro in a video she posted on Youtube. When she entered the space, she says, she found a woman taking measurements. “She was the one that told me that the space was being rented by Starbucks.”
Calderon-Navarro is part of an informal intercampus group of students and professors called Free CUNY which advocates for free tuition at CUNY.
Hunter students involved with Free CUNY feel like the Starbucks situation epitomizes what they describe as a lack of transparency on the part of the Hunter administration regarding the college’s finances. It upsets them that students were not consulted before the deal was made, and they fear that the money made from the new Starbucks will not be spent to benefit the students.
“This is going to be branded as ‘oh look, we have this for the students’ and ‘you want coffee, right?’” said Robin Marshall, another student involved in Free CUNY. “Do we really need another Starbucks when there are so many better uses for the space?”
Other students also have some concerns. “Having a Starbucks would be very convenient for the students and faculty,” said student Kristy Lee, “but that means it’ll also be very convenient for everyone else coming out of the 6 train.”
Senior Zoe Colasacco is also worried about traffic. “The escalators are already backed up,” she said, “and where they’re putting it is directly in the way of getting out of the subway entrance.”
Other students have no concerns. “I’m down for it I guess,” said sophomore Arta Ndregjoni, “because the nearest one is a couple of blocks away,” and she would rather not have to walk there.
“I know that it’s not all perfect-world but we’re trying to make the best choices,” Raab said in the video. “It’s all about students at the end of the day.”