Surreybucks: Ben Pook’s Response
Surreybucks: the discussion continued The objective of our students’ union newspaper, in particular the newssection, is to increase visibility of activities and developments on our campus.Meanwhile, opinions are an essential feature in The Stag and represent acore value in the paper’s personality. While there is an understandable needto report in an unbiased manner, a factor which The Stag editors striveto maintain, attitudes will inevitably surface because of the nature of our newspaper; content which is written by students, for students.Furthermore, the objective of the article in the last edition of The Stag (Issue13) headlined ‘Surreybucks opens second coffee store on campus’, wasnot to needlessly instigate negative connotations. Rather, the purpose of this article in question was partly to invoke a discussion about the quality of the University of Surrey’s management of hospitality and catering onour campus. With this in mind, The Stag would personally like to thank theUniversity for contacting its editorial team and fulfilling the article’s objective.My response is an effort to continue this valuable discussion. The Stag is in no dispute that the University has no records of my attemptto contact the Hospitality Catering Services. However, what this statementfails to indicate is that I did attempt to contact the department; record or norecord. This process began with a referral to the Hospitality Catering Servicesfrom our Students’ Union; via twitter. And as an adopter of anything web-based, I completed the comments form on the HCS site. Sadly, no recordhas been found of my submission. I couldn’t agree more to the notionthat solid communication between both parties would have led to a morebalanced article and improved credibility. Unfortunately, I’m not responsiblefor managing the process of submitting online comments to the HCS.It’s important to clarify that the article does not criticise the single presenceof Starbucks on our campus. The sole presence of a ‘corporate brand’doesn’t necessarily pose a threat to student welfare. However, the article iscritical of the growing partnership between Starbucks and the University; apartnership which has led not only to the announcement of one additionalStarbucks coffee store on university property, but a third, which is due toopen at the new Surrey Sports Park, hence:“a second Starbucks store [is] completely unnecessary” and “The partnershipbetween the University and Starbucks has led to the announcement of plansfor yet another Starbucks coffee store. This third store, which will be locatedat the new Surrey Sports Park...” With the growing evidence of a corporate partnership on our campus, itseems perfectly understandable to question, and attempt to conclude, theimpact this will have on the life of students. Within the article in question,this conclusion referenced the negative impact on competition. However, itseems this conclusion requires further clarification. The opening of a second store within a few hundred yards of the first isdetrimental to competition on campus. Competition has declined due to afailure to capitalise on an ideal opportunity, now lost. This lost opportunity comes in the form of introducing different products and services. Additionally,there is a lost opportunity to support a local business, or possibly even sustaina student business - young, adventurous and personal. This support holdsunprecedented value considering the current torrid economical situation for small to medium sized businesses. These are simply suggestions.“Ben’s argument that choice has been reduced since the introduction of Starbucks is simply wrong.” Also, this clarification doesn’t even consider the opening of a third Starbuckscoffee store, consideration which should seem superfluous. The term‘unnecessary’, used in the article in question, relates to the geographicproximity of the first and second Starbucks coffee stores, as well as thislost opportunity. The University of Surrey have kindly identified the extent of differentiation in coffee services on campus; however this still ignores theloss in opportunity.Importantly, there appears to be evidence of neglect from not only theUniversity, but also from our own Students’ Union, which leads me torespond to another point.“[the Students’ Union] was involved in the creation of a campus wide retailstrategy that aims to increase choice of all retail and catering services oncampus” As mentioned earlier, it’s disappointing that communication between bothparties wasn’t established. The article in question was reported on factsrealistically available at the time. And as such, the above information wasn’ttaken into consideration. However, information that the Students’ Unionhas a distinct involvement in retail and catering services on campus formsequally balanced questions on why an opportunity to improve competitionwas lost. This leads to another topic, thankfully picked up by the University in their response to the article in question, which is the ‘student voice’ of the University of Surrey. Are students being heard? It’s encouraging that thefirst Starbucks is passing ‘student tests’ - but this was never in dispute andis directly linked to the impact of our ‘student voice’. Also, it seems thesetests are not related to the disputes surrounding the opening of the secondstore; which was the topic of the article in question.Finally, the University of Surrey pose a very interesting enquiry about theplacement of the article in question. This enquiry is precisely relevant to oneof the objectives of the article - improving discussions and reader feedback. While I remain adamant that the article in question is newsworthy, due to itsnature as an announcement of campus developments, and that a balancedapproach to the news was maintained which considers both arguments,I’m also aware that a ‘comments’ section in the paper represents an very interesting proposition. The critical advantage of a comments section isthe distinction between news and disputed biased articles; thus improving visibility to the reader.I would like to take this opportunity to again thank the University for contacting The Stag and disputing the content of the article in question. I hope thisdiscussion will continue and consequently provide the student community with a reliable representation of this debate. Are you interested in joining the discussion? Add The Stag on Twitter by searching for thestagnews and let us know what you think.
Surreybucks: Reader Response
Dear Ben,I just wanted to express my support of your articleabout the new Starbucks in the Stag beforeChristmas.I decided to write this email after reading the‘University response’ to your article in the mostrecent copy of the Stag. I think this response isclearly not addressing the issue at hand: not asingle one of the alternative providers of coffee oncampus it lists actually is a ‘cafe’ that could offer acomparable atmosphere to the one in Starbucks. The author has the audacity to include the library (with a coffee machine) and the Varsity Centre(clearly not on campus). Anyways, enough of the moaning for you areprobably long aware of all of this. Just keep upthe resistance against the taste and politics of Starbucks coffee. I know of quite a few people outthere who support this kind of thinking!Best,
JohannesWant to join the debate? Do you agree or disagreewith Ben Pook’s comments about the partnershipbetween the university and Starbucks? Send your thoughts email@example.com