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Taylor’s caffeinated conflict

Part of Taylor’s community questions a new addition

By Jed Barber | Echo

Buzz has spread across campus about the possibility of a Starbucks being installed in the new campus bookstore. Rumors have circulated and the reports are in. It is really happening.

Having such a notable source of coffee this close is obviously a popular prospect, and this addition to Taylor could be a possible selling point for prospective students. Still, a moment should be taken to consider the possible negative ramifications of bringing the coffee supergiant to our school.

A recent petition that has appeared on campus has done just that. The petition holds signatures from Taylor students, parents, alumni, faculty, and staff, and it states that, “The values of Taylor University and Starbucks are in deep conflict.”

Here’s an example of how students already have access to Starbucks drinks.

Here’s an example of how students already have access to Starbucks drinks.

The petition draws from a number of people, but it originated with a member of Taylor faculty. “I drafted the actual text of the petition and am collecting names of signatories,” Jim Spiegel professor of philosophy and religion said.

Spiegel highlights two areas of moral conflict. Taylor University and Starbucks have differing official positions on both abortion and LGBTQ matters, and the petitioners cite the prohibition against “unequally yoked” partnerships found in 2 Corinthians 6:14 as a reason why the partnership should not proceed.

Regardless of how anyone might feel on the issues noted above, the petitioners also note that this new coffee shop will deepen the already existing divide between the University and Upland. Taylor already has a coffee shop, and others, such as the Bridge Café and Joe on the Go, exist only minutes from campus. It further separates Taylor from its community, and it fails to stimulate the local economy by helping out smaller businesses.

Jeff Aupperle director of the Calling and Career Office and Promising Ventures notes the important relationships built when interacting with local business. “It takes some time for those relationships to settle in.” Adding another coffee shop would only serve as a barrier in reaching out.

Even if we disregard the consequences listed above, another Starbucks franchise already exists within a short drive from campus, and even further beyond that, what college student really needs another outlet for spending money.

With all these factors in mind, a partnership with this company seems ill suited for Taylor’s campus. While I doubt that their presence on campus would force the administration to change the values that conflict, but the possible problems arising from these ideological differences are hard to predict. We as a community also need to remind ourselves that Taylor is not a closed system, and we need to take action against retreating from the larger Grant County community.

There is one caveat in my mind, however. I agree with the petition’s goals, but I think it should encourage a wider evaluation of other possible partnerships that might cause conflict. Taylor does not exist apart from the world, and we need to know what ties we have, and how they will affect us.

For example, this petition should create a greater awareness for the necessity of being independent from federal funding for the university, and maybe we need to consider any possible influences the products Taylor buys as an organization might conflict with the university’s values.

I do not know what possible issues may exist elsewhere. There may be none, but we cannot just be sticklers about having a Starbucks on campus. We need to be consistent with this philosophy being “equally yoked.”

With that being said, I do think that petition is a positive movement campus, and I have even signed it myself. I encourage others to do likewise. To do so, simply tusb.petition@gmail.com.

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