At the Feb. 10 Student Association business meeting, Mark Scott, director of Campus Auxiliary Services, discussed several long-range planning initiatives, including the addition of a Starbucks franchise in place of the Campus Grind by October.
Scott was accompanied by Sarah Gittere, general manager of campus dining, and by Jonna Anne, CAS executive chef. Students present at the open discussion asked a variety of questions about meal plan pricing, variety within and across eateries and opportunities for CAS to better engage students and exercise ethical responsibility.
Construction of the Starbucks will begin over the summer and is slated to be complete by October, though Scott said he hoped it would be ready sooner. The café will be fully functional and recognizable as a Starbucks franchise. Students will be able to use their meal plans to purchase coffee and snacks.
Scott said that the campus Starbucks will price its products in line with what freestanding Starbucks locations charge and that he will work with the vendor to design a menu that meets the needs of students.
The store will replace the current Campus Grind, which sells coffee, focaccia sandwiches, desserts and flavored hot and cold drinks. Scott said that the existing layout may have to be modified to accommodate the Starbucks but that any displaced functions would be relocated elsewhere in the Union.
Some students expressed apprehension at the announcement. "I feel like it's going to be expensive," sophomore Rachael Mt. Pleasant said.
"I guess it's a good thing," senior Erica Rath said. "I feel like it's kind of a sell-out - it's not necessary."
"I think people are going to expect higher quality, and it's not going to be that much better," junior Emma Bedor said.
"Why franchise when you've got something that's independent and unique?" junior Leah Kaiser said. "I'm not a Starbucks fan."
The seating area outside of the store will be revamped, but there will still be space available for student performances.
According to Scott, CAS is in the infancy of a five-year strategic plan to renovate its services. Though nearly every dining facility will be touched in some way during that time, Letchworth Dining Hall will receive the biggest overhaul, undergoing a $13 million renovation in about two years. CAS is also considering revamping the Geneseo University Store to more closely resemble a convenience store, and will soon decide whether to continue using the present supplier of vending machines, Next Generation, or another supplier.
Several students raised questions about the logistics and pricing of on-campus meal plans. Gittere said that she will be evaluating the appropriateness of the current pricing structure, beginning with meal plan options for transfer students.
Typically, meal plans are not transferable from semester to semester, but Scott decided to let fall balances rollover to the spring due to the large number of students who were inconvenienced by Red Jacket's closure.
"I couldn't sleep with just letting that money fall to the bottom line," he said. Gittere said that though balances could roll from fall to spring semester each year, many students would find themselves with large unspent balances at the end of the year compared to smaller balances at the end of individual semesters. Meal plans cannot be transferred from one year to another or used for other people because of the provisions that allow them to be tax-exempt.
This will not be the first time Starbucks has held a presence in Geneseo. The global coffee chain used to operate a standalone location on Rt. 20A but shut down operations last year.
Edited at 1:46 p.m. on Feb. 18