Nescafé coffee post taken down following negative comments from students

A post on a University of Ottawa Facebook page was recently taken down following a series of critical comments by students at the university.

The post was promoting the Nescafé booth on the U of O campus, which had been on campus in September and the first week of October handing out free coffee to students. The post itself said that 50,000 cups of coffee were given out in 15 days, with 3,300 per day and 660 per hour.

The comments on the post criticized the U of O’s decision to host Nescafé despite the fact that their coffee is not fair trade, given the university’s support for fair trade coffee and green initiatives.

In an email to the Fulcrum, acting manager of the U of O’s media relations Isabelle Mailloux-Pulkinghorn said that “the overall purpose of the Nescafé initiative was simply to offer students free coffee, like we did in the past with other suppliers.”

“The University has often offered free food items to students with great success. For example, during the winter carnival beaver tails and other goodies are offered for free,” said Mailloux-Pulkinghorn.

“This past Welcome Week, there was free popcorn offered to students during the free outdoor movie projections and community life services gave away free ice cream at their tent.  Those are little perks that students seem to enjoy.”

According to Mailloux-Pulkinghorn, Nescafé originally came to campus in March 2016 as part of the Poutine Festival. “Given the success among the student population, it was agreed that they would come back this fall.”

“This is why their Pop-up Café was activated for 15 days. Due to its overwhelming popularity, the Pop-up Café was extended an extra four days.”

The comments on the Facebook post highlighted the excess waste produced by the Nescafé booth, while others noted that the U of O should be working to support green initiatives and local, ethical businesses. The university was also criticized for commercializing the campus.

The university did not provide comment on why the post was pulled off of the Facebook page on time for publication.

Sophie Routhier Leblanc, a third-year geography and environmental studies student at the U of O had initially commented on the Facebook post, highlighting that the U of O should instead promote sustainable, student-run initiatives such as Muggy Mondays.

According to their Facebook page, Muggy Mondays is “an initiative that promotes waste reduction, run entirely by student volunteers,” through the U of O’s Office of Campus Sustainability.

Muggy Mondays provides free fair trade tea, coffee, and hot chocolate to students who bring a reusable mug to school.

Leblanc told the Fulcrum that one of her major concerns with the Nescafé booth was “the waste it created with the cups.”

“When I saw the numbers on their post it was just too much for me. 3,300 a day and 55,000 in total, try imagining that amount of paper cups,” said Leblanc.

In response to these complaints, the U of O Facebook page commented that it “will be working towards more sustainable future initiatives.”

Mailloux-Pulkinghorn said that the university takes students’ initiatives into consideration and will try their best to implement them into their daily operations. She also highlighted that the U of O was the first among Canadian campuses to ban plastic water bottles.

“Rest assured that the university values sustainability and green initiatives. That said, it is not always feasible in all we do—but we do aim to offer the best student experience possible.”