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Potential Starbucks sparks controversy

A new coffee house will soon be open

Ellie Tiemens | The Echo

Taylor students watched in anticipation as the empty lot at the edge of campus took on the shape of a building. Now, rumors are confirmed that the building will house a new Tree of Life bookstore and possibly, a Starbucks.

Tree of Life, the same company that powers the Taylor University campus store, will be acting as the building contractor and co-investor in this new bookstore and is in charge of making the arrangement for Starbucks that will be housed at this location.

Junior Emily Wallace displays her reusable Starbucks cup. Photo by Jerusha Lindsay.

Junior Emily Wallace displays her reusable Starbucks cup. Photo by Jerusha Lindsay.

With Tree of Life potentially planning for this coffee house to be a Starbucks, a group of Taylor faculty, spearheaded by James Spiegel, professor of philosophy and religion, took objection. On Feb. 3, students received an email alerting them to the possibility of a Starbucks opening on campus and encouraging them to sign a petition to terminate this plan.

“The values of Taylor and Starbucks are in deep conflict,” Spiegel wrote in the petition. “Taylor is pro-life and affirms traditional marriage, while Starbucks is actively pro-choice (a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood) and pro-LGBTQ (endorsing many LGBTQ causes). Uniting with Starbucks in this way is a tacit endorsement of these values which are fundamentally opposed to Taylor’s values.”

Spiegel outlines that having a Starbucks location on Taylor’s campus would not only violate statements in the Bible and the Life Together Covenant, but would also cause direct competition with local coffee houses such as The Jumping Bean, Joe on the Go and The Bridge.

Colleen Warren, professor of English, is among the faculty and students who are speaking out against having this Starbucks store on campus.

“I think what (we) want to do is make it visible and clear to the administration and to the people who own Tree of Life Bookstore that there are a lot of people who are questioning their plan to put the Starbucks in there and giving good reasons for it,” Warren said.

Sophomore Clarisa Paschall signed the petition, agreeing with its statements that point out the negative impacts a Starbucks could have on the Taylor and Upland communities such as decreased business at local student loved coffee shops.

“I think (Taylor) could do a lot better job of putting something there that is not so flashy and up to scale . . . to kind of stand with a lot of what Taylor stands for, which is they want to be better for the community, they want to be helpful for the community, and I don’t think Starbucks would really walk alongside that goal that Taylor has,” Paschall said.

As Starbucks drinks are already sold in the Student Center, and a Starbucks location is located less than five miles from campus, Paschall says that she doesn’t think that another Starbucks location here on Taylor is the best move.

Paschall stated that perhaps Taylor should consider helping The Jumping Bean out and giving them a bigger space to operate in this new bookstore instead of putting in this Starbucks.

President P. Lowell Haines responded to objections in a statement to the faculty and staff at Taylor.

“We recognize, however, that Starbucks, like many mega corporations today, is outspoken on some social issues that are not consistent with Taylor’s stance on the same issues,” Haines said in the statement. “Accordingly, we expect there to be some concerns over the appropriateness of allowing the coffee brand on campus. We have heard those concerns and have noted them as we work through the details of our arrangement with Tree of Life.”

Haines additionally cited that the President’s Cabinet met and discussed this issue as well as Taylor’s use of products from other companies whose beliefs do not align with those of this University.

Though many details of this project are still unclear, students can expect to one day see the doors open to a new student hotspot on campus.

“Basically, we hope to receive a top-quality, name-brand coffee shop on campus, albeit one that at the corporate level may be tied to social positions to which we do not agree,” wrote Haines.

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