New cafes strain students’ wallets

Before Barnes and Noble took over the Co-op, the cafè took points and was more affordable for students. Now, Starbucks serves more expensive coffee and snacks. (Jason Jiang/Daily Campus)

University of Connecticut’s students and coffee addicts alike may be feeling a strain on their wallets this semester.  

Students could once use meal plan points at the cute café that used to sell crepes, mini gluten free pizzas and other Dining Services options. However, it is now run by Barnes and Noble as a Starbucks. That café now sells bagels, breakfast sandwiches and all Starbucks drinks, and it no longer accepts points. The old café, Le Petit Marche, used to be a place that students would visit to study or enjoy a good book, and it could be of no direct cost to them, thanks to meal points. Yet now, as the café does not accept points, this relaxing ritual could become expensive.

Similar changes have occurred to the former Co-op Café, which was in the same building as the campus bookstore. The café was a popular place to hang out with friends and maybe squeeze in some work before class. The acquisition by Barnes and Noble once again comes with a menu change and the café does not accept points.

Leonard Oser, the UConn Bookstore Group general manager, stated that the acquisitions happened “at the request of the school.” This is an example of the university choosing what is easiest for themselves rather than what is best for its students. It is probably easier for the university to manage fewer locations for dining services, but combined with fewer Grab and Go hours, the change to fewer places accepting points puts a strain on students, both in terms of their budgets and their schedules.  

Despite the fact that the sign outside the Storrs Center bookstore still says “Le Petit Marche,” the store has changed significantly. Barnes and Noble’s acquisitions may be better for both the company and the university, but it is a hindrance on the UConn students. When making the request for the acquisitions, it is unfortunate that the university did not consider the effect it would have on its students, and it is sad that now that it is clearly negatively impacting us, they have not arranged for different ways to alleviate the problem.