Photo courtesy of Pintrest
Last semester I had the privilege to work for Victory Perk, the coffee shop that took the place of Coffee Emporium. While I, like many other students, was sad to see Coffee Emporium leave, I was hopeful that the new place would be good, cheap and capable of filling that slight void in my heart left behind by the loss of the seasonal drinks that Coffee Emporium offered.
I was dismayed at first when Victory Perk struggled to meet all of my expectations, but I figured that all new businesses have rough starts. Carabello, the company that supplies the beans, had excellent coffee that was ethically grown and purchased, so I had reason to believe that the coffee would get better over time as the new employees got used to preparing the coffee. I got a job at Victory Perk, was rapidly trained by the staff and three months later I quit due to my class schedule being more rigorous than I expected.
However, during that time period, I learned some things that I would like to bring to the attention of the rest of campus, especially with Currito facing a lease renewal this coming year.
In return for financing Gallagher Student Center (GSC) renovations, Coffee Emporium’s lease was not renewed in favor of supporting a Fortune 500 company. This was a major matter of contention among Xavier students in 2017, with many students signing petitions and working to fight against what they saw as a corporate buyout of a Xavier institution.
Regardless of people’s opinions, GSC and all on-campus dining (save for Currito) is now run by one company. This company: Chartwells, owned by Compass Group, aspires to have a monopoly on campus, running all dining on campus so as to turn a profit. While this all seems conspiracy theory-esque, it is already taking place.
While Chartwells does a fine job running the caf, Compass Group as a whole has had a history of mismanagement and unsafe business practices. According to the Guardian, in the early 2000’s, Compass had to pay more than $40 million in lawsuit settlements for allegedly bribing UN officials in order to secure massive food contracts. This resulted in Compass being suspended by the UN, the stepping down of the then-CEO of Compass and the sacking of the head of the UK division.
However, this is only one of the many scandals that plague Compass as a whole, others including the “Horse Meat scandal” — wherein Compass was found to have put up to 30 percent horse meat in their school foods without proper notice — and the Southern DHB scandal — where food not fitting the description of what was purchased was delivered to New Zealand hospitals.
I would like to acknowledge that this is a relatively small concern in the grand scheme of things, but it is still important to notice the unethical procedures that Compass has employed in order to make money. Compass cuts corners, as evidenced by improper inspection of food leading to horse meat in their products.
They also (allegedly) use illegal techniques to gain food contracts, as the lawsuit on the bribing of UN officials suggests.
Students living on campus have to pay a fairly large sum of money in order to eat three meals a day at Xavier, so shouldn’t they get their money’s worth? It is not unlikely that Compass may attempt to serve low quality products at premium prices, knowing that they have a monopoly on campus dining.
This is not what Xavier as a university strives to promote, and a practice that most people would be hard-pressed to endorse.
Jax Benson is a sophomore English major with a writing concentration. He is a guest writer from Lexington, Ky.