In 1993, CPO launched the Coffee House with hopes of creating a learning tool for Economics & Management students. Unfortunately, that idea has not come to being; instead, a massively subsidized student organization evolved.
The initial idea and goals behind the Coffee House would have provided my fellow students with a great opportunity to put the theory they learn in the classroom to work—it was meant for students to get business experience by living in the house. With the launch of the Albion Advantage, we have a unique opportunity to reinvent the Coffee House and provide a new campus hang out, but also an “E&M lab.” The new coffee house plan would play in with two major aspects of the Albion Advantage: career readiness and alumni relations.
In early April, I presented a comprehensive reform for the Coffee House to members of our administration. Ang Pryor and my plan includes aesthetic renovations to the first floor, making the building non-residential, turning former residential spaces into 24/7 study zones that are welcoming to groups, expanding the menu to include smoothies and pastries and becoming a completely self-sustaining and profitable business endeavor.
If approved, the Coffee House would be overseen by a board of directors consisting of directors of the Gerstacker and Ford institutes, faculty, alumni and students. This board will be tasked with mentoring the students on different aspects of operating a business and for hiring the seven students that would manage the facility.
Facility management would qualify as a semester internship for students, helping to fulfill major and minor requirements and also serving as a career-readiness opportunity. Over ten students are working on building the appropriate business model and business plan. Our proposal would fundamentally change the way we do business at the Coffee House—quite literally.
Opponents of the proposal argue that the college cannot sustain a project like this. The proposal is funded via a student senate pet project and a small business loan, not increasing college expenses but, decreasing them by ending the subsidy. Others argue on behalf of the current organization and tradition; however I have asked for the currents members’ thoughts and ideas and have received nothing thus far.
This is about the entire campus and what is best for all of us.
As is the case in any time change is proposed, there is resistance. We can continue the business as usual model or we can support a comprehensive reform, one that will benefit all the students on campus.
Let me ask you to ponder, how many of you have walked around campus thinking, “Man, I really want a (put your favorite Starbucks beverage here) right now.” How many of you drive to Jackson just for a cup of coffee or an espresso?
This is a great opportunity to make Albion a leader in career readiness. This is not about me or my proposal; this is about the Albion College community. Every student, faculty member and alumni on this campus would benefit from this proposal, be it the internship opportunity, the late night food or a 24/7 study space.
I urge all members of the college community to join the fight, to get this comprehensive reform implemented. Students will be around campus asking for signatures on a petition showing student support for this proposal. This is a pivotal moment-let’s stand up.