NO STARBUCKS AT HUNTER COLLEGE! PETITION FOR COMMUNAL SPACE FOR STUDENTS
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A place to assemble and share ideas is the beating heart of a community. The empty 3,000 sq. ft. space in the Hunter College main lobby can serve this purpose for students. This property defines the face of Hunter, and directly connects to the entrance of our school at Lexington Avenue and 68th Street.
In the Spring 2019 semester, art students had access to this space and organized three successful exhibits of undergraduate student artwork. These shows attracted the support of over 500 attendees, including neighborhood gallery owners and collectors who were interested in seeing our college's art. Unfortunately, Hunter’s administration shut down this initiative in May 2019 to make room for Starbucks. As part of the contract, this Starbucks will not pay rent for a third (1,000 sq. ft.) of the property. In addition, Starbucks is not paying rent for nearly 2 years while they occupy the space.
Overall, there are many attractive uses for the lobby space at Hunter College. Whether it is run as an art gallery, an event space for clubs, or transformed into a food pantry, students are excited about the possibilities. What we absolutely do not want is another Starbucks. The increased privatization of our public university is wrong, and a cruel disservice to students. We are challenging the premise that this location has ‘always’ been rented out as a commercial property to provide revenue for Hunter. This tradition of placing profit over our community has to stop in 2020. This is the moment to say no to corporate interests. Students have dreams to make this space an amazing feature of our college’s legacy. We ask that you invest in this vision.
Unfortunately, Hunter’s administration is not supporting our community-centric aspirations. Students have endured nearly 12 months of frustration trying to communicate with the Business Development Office and the Office of Student Affairs. Hunter officials have actively worked to undermine our efforts to get involved in the decision-making process surrounding this deal with Starbucks. Our requests for student input have been repeatedly rejected and ignored. The administration refuses to answer our questions, and students are upset about the lack of transparency. Why is our university giving Starbucks priority over student needs?
Since the Fall 2019 semester, students have demanded a town hall meeting with Hunter administration to address our concerns about the Starbucks deal. The Office of Student Affairs considered the possibility of this town hall after meeting with concerned students, but it never happened despite our multiple efforts to follow-up. We are disappointed to conclude that Hunter College is not considering the future of our lobby with Hunter's creative and educational communities in mind. We are a determined group of students who genuinely care about the legacy of our university. For this reason, we are asking the Board of Trustees to vote AGAINST the Starbucks Deal on February 3rd, 2020.
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