If there’s one thing my family, friends, and peers know about me, it is that I worship coffee.

To understand my passion for coffee, I thought falling in love with someone was a myth until I actually did. What shocked me the most about the experience of being in love was how uncannily similar it is to how I feel sipping coffee.

I therefore know a good amount about coffee. More specifically, that there’s a significant difference between ice coffee and cold brew. The difference is actually in the name, cold “brew.” See, the reason it’s called cold brew is because to make it, you steep it for hours in cold or room temperature water. Ice coffee is coffee brewed using hot water and then cooled down. It typically takes longer to make cold brew than iced coffee because of the brewing process, which is why cold brew costs more in a coffee shop. 

Why should you care about a brewing difference over a cold coffee? If you have paid for a cold brew at Connections or The Brew on the University’s campus, you are actually paying for an iced coffee, because all they do to make their “cold brew” is brew it using the coffee machine, using hot water, keep it in the plastic tank, and add ice to it. This means you aren’t paying for a cold brew, calling it one is misleading, and there are these really cool things called lawsuits! 

Now, a potential lawsuit is a problem, but the bigger issue lies in Dining Services at UR in general. Undergraduate students are required to have a dining plan, which is an unreasonable request if your dining services are not running up to standards. It might seem petty to be upset by Starbucks being closed on Grubhub, but if UR advertises having Grubhub on campus to accommodate students’ busy schedules, and then has the Starbucks Grubhub closed frequently at what might likely be its most popular location, then you do have the right to be dissatisfied. You are required to have a dining plan, and cannot use an accommodation that has been advertised to you as a benefit of UR Dining.

So why is GrubHub closed at Starbucks? There are not enough employees to be able to serve the massive line of people waiting for Starbucks and the hundreds of orders that come through on GrubHub. UR’s dining employee shortage is not new, but with an undergraduate student body with over 6,000 people, it seems like there’s enough warm bodies to work at Starbucks. UR students are paying for Dining Services to have enough people at Starbucks, because again, this is a service we are required to have, meaning UR needs to be able to provide this service at full capacity. 

UR Dining did face a shock when five of its managers resigned, but the real shock comes from the fact that they all left on the same day. This might be a blaring siren in the manner Harvest Table, a subdivision food service of Aramark UR contacts to run Dining, treats its employees. Worker concerns over Aramark’s treatment of employees have been seen at the University of Florida, Georgetown, Ole Miss, Florida State University, and University of Mississippi, with scrutiny of understaffing, low pay, poor management practices, disgusting working conditions, and more. If these universities have seen employee mistreatment and unfair labor practices, my magic eight-ball says “signs point to yes” that it’s present at UR as well. 

UR Dining Services is assigning some of the blame to RTS for not being able to have the staffing for services like late-night dining due to the fact employees are not able to get home in the evenings. I’ve had a question rattling in my mind since I learned this: Why hasn’t UR stepped up to the plate? With the endowments and funding UR likes to splash around, why can’t they find the money or resources to provide transportation or find a solution that treats crucial members of not only UR, but the community of Rochester, with the respect and support they deserve? 

Don’t exalt the Meliora values on our promotional materials if you aren’t actually going to hold yourself responsible to them. We are responsible for making our community ever better, through our actions, our words, and our dealings with others: That’s the tagline, so where is the follow through? 

UR has the potential to be the city on the hill it claims to be for the upstate New York community. Yet, UR fails to serve its most important clients, the immediate community on campus. Not the people who pay an enormous tuition to be here, but the people who make it possible for this campus to operate every day. 

And somehow I think if something were going to change as a result of this article, it’s going to be UR finding some chalk and changing the name of our “cold brew.” Because if something’s going to hurt UR’s piggy bank, it’s worth stepping in, right?

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