The AU General Assembly narrowly voted to approve Starbucks coffee over Pura Vida coffee in the bid for the spot to be vacated by Auntie Anne’s pretzel shop in Mary Graydon Center, after heated debate Wednesday night.
The General Assembly adopted an amendment to urge the university to seek an establishment that offers food instead of coffee. Representative Jen Smyers, a junior in the School of Communication, proposed an amendment saying that if the university had to choose between the two competing companies, the Student Confederation would recommend Pura Vida. An additional amendment proposed by Representative Andrew Mullen, a junior in Kogod and the College of Arts and Sciences, changed the Smyers amendment to read “Starbucks” in place of “Pura Vida.”
“If you want competition, the choice is Starbucks,” Mullen said. “By having Starbucks, you get a choice between being a hippie or a capitalist.”
Smyers said she was unhappy that the amendment bearing her name was changed to support Starbucks, since she supports Pura Vida. Smyers said she feels the majority of AU supports Pura Vida and fair trade coffee, because there are many students who would support such a shop, such as those studying public affairs and international relations, as well as a sizeable international student population.
“It’s just misleading to have my name on the amendment,” Smyers said. “I am disappointed with the GA, because I feel AU’s status as a socially responsible organization will be diluted. It’s the students’ right to choose what type of business they want to endorse.”
The Mullen amendment passed, with 11 representatives voting for it, nine against it and three abstaining from voting. The revised Smyers amendment then passed, 11-9. Finally, the original amendment to the resolution passed, 12-7.
“In the end, we don’t know what’s available,” said Polson Kanneth, the current SC president. He said that no one knows exactly what the coffee shop will be like, regardless of whether it is owned by Starbucks or Pura Vida.
“We can’t know what they’re going to offer us,” Kanneth said. He said he would issue a statement later in the week concerning ownership of the proposed coffee shop.