With the opening of the new SU building, students were met with two more outlets of expensive Starbucks coffee from questionable corporate backgrounds.
Frenchay Campus now features three shops displaying “proud to serve Starbucks” billboards, complete with high prices – regular coffee costs between 10% and 30% more than the other cafes on campus
During student occupation of 2014/15, Vice Chancellor Steve West admitted candidly that he would like to see “Starbucks gone,” and promised to raise the issue. Since then, two more outlets have opened, along with the already two existing ones on Frenchay and St. Matt’s Campuses.
Besides the obvious toll on student pockets, many have questioned the ethics of allowing a corporate giant – accused of widespread tax-evasion and workers’ rights abuses, to expand on campus.
Starbucks is due to pay back – together with the car giant Fiat Chrysler – “up to €30 million in taxes after European tax breaks were ruled illegal,” reported BBC in October, 2015. This follows 2012 revelation of Starbucks “paying just £8.6m UK tax in 14 years,” according to the BBC.
Additionally, there have been 6 settlements of workers’ cases in 3 years, in the United States, and further disputes of unpaid sick leave in the UK; UWE did not address the issue of Starbuck’s corporate background.
“Starbucks was felt to offer the best deal for students. It remains the most popular high street student brand,” said Director of Facilities at UWE, Chris Abbott. Edvin, a student waiting to be served, said: “I use it, because I like the coffee here.”
However, Harriet – a student at UWE, told WesternEye: “All other cheaper places are closed [at 4pm], so I have to come here.”
Whether the face-value of a popular brand can replace the company’s infamous background, remains to be decided by the students at UWE.
By Ben Gerdziunas