Chapman Starbucks to provide racial-bias training


Students will be on summer break when the campus Starbucks temporarily closes, but some students believe the shutdown is still valuable. Photo by Bonnie Cash

Chapman University’s campus Starbucks will close May 29 to take part in the coffee chain’s nationwide 8,000-store shutdown for racial bias training, after two African-American men were arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while waiting for a friend and asking to use the restroom.

The two Starbucks in the Orange Plaza will also close May 29 for the training. While Chapman’s is run by food services company Sodexo, the on-campus store isn’t required to participate, but Rick Nargi, Sodexo’s district manager, told The Panther that it will.

“As an organization, we take (diversity) very seriously, and we embrace that,” Nargi said. “We thought that it was the right move.”

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Employees at the Philadelphia store claimed that the two men had not bought anything, and employees called the police when the men refused to leave, according to The New York Times.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson met with the two men, according to a Starbucks press release, and Johnson has since apologized.

Harold Hewitt, Chapman’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, said that he supports the store’s decision to close for the day, as he said Chapman is committed to an image of diversity and inclusiveness in the way that it trains its employees.

“Even here at Chapman, there could be an incident similar to what occurred at that Starbucks (in Philadelphia),” Hewitt said. “We strive for never having an incident of blatant discrimination like that occur.”

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Chapman Starbucks employees will be trained based on what material the corporate-owned stores prepare, along with the other 8,000 chains nationwide.

Becky Campos, Chapman’s vice president of human resources, provided The Panther with the material for typical trainings conducted in the workplace on campus. This typical training administered to employees covers unlawful harassment prevention, using respectful language and reducing implicit bias.

“(Because) we have students, staff and faculty coming in every semester, there’s a continuous cycle of reinforcement and awareness,” Campos said.

Chapman made the decision to close April 24, Nargi said, a few days after University of California, San Diego administrators announced that the its on-campus store would participate, after initially deciding against the training since the Starbucks there is licensed by the university.

We strive for never having an incident of blatant discrimination like that occur.”

“We did get approval from (corporate Starbucks April 24) to participate. They’re sharing their training materials with us,” Nargi said.

Chapman students have mixed reactions to Sodexo’s decision to shut down the campus Starbucks.

“I think it’s great that Sodexo is willing to close (Starbucks) down,” said Julia Ha, a freshman strategic and corporate communication major. “It means that we’re supporting the cause.”

Nick Dowdy, a junior public relations and advertising major, believes that the university isn’t doing enough by participating in the nationwide shutdown.

“In honor of that incident, (offering racial-bias training) is nice – but it doesn’t really fix or change anything,” he said. “It doesn’t change this type of situation from happening in the future. It’s not really changing what they’re doing; it’s just closing for the day.”

Instead of closing Starbucks, freshman sociology major Cindy Rauda thinks the company needs to find other solutions to prove that its employees are not going to discriminate against its customers.

“Closing is going to get rid of the problem (at hand), but they’re not finding any solutions with that,” she said.

The campus Starbucks employees weren’t aware on whether they will have training May 29, as they haven’t been given any information from Sodexo. None of Chapman’s Starbucks employees were given approval to discuss the issue with The Panther.

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