University students occupy Starbucks shop
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Boğaziçi Univesity students, who occupy the campus Starbucks, have brought their own coffee, tea, sandwiches and even carpets to the coffee shop.
For three days more than 50 students have been occupying a Boğaziçi University campus Starbucks to protest campus food prices. The occupation follows a student march protesting the same.
Students brought their own coffee, tea, sandwiches and even carpets to Starbucks. The staff at the coffee shop is still on duty and serving free coffee to customers, but not protesters, during the occupation.
“Our goal is to draw attention to the big picture, which is about our campus life. It is surrounded by expensive stores, and day by day we are turning into consumers,” Yıldız Tar, a student of the political sciences and international relations department, told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.
Students emphasized the low quality of university restaurants. “We feel obligated to go to fancy cafes, but it is not what we need. Starbucks is symbolic,” Tar said.
“We will stay in the cafe until they accept our terms and the campus belongs to us, not to the major companies,” James Kiger from California said. The students’ conditions to end the occupation were cheaper cafes, vegetarian options and healthier meals in restaurants.
Before the Starbucks coffee shop launched on campus, a hair salon occupied the premises. The salon was sold two months ago.
Students want the right to have a say on such issues, and most of the university’s academics support their cause, including Tuna Kuyucu of the university’s sociology department. “In the last years our university has been undergoing a process of gentrification. There are now two types of dorms: one for rich students and one for poor, which is unacceptable,” he said.
The university administration, however, is concerned about the protests. A deputy rector talked to the occupiers and warned them to end the occupation.
In a written statement made public yesterday, Starbucks said it did not consider itself as being part of the conflict and hoped the situation would be resolved soon. “We support the right of the students to have their say, but we are also worried about consumers who have a right to their coffee,” the statement said.