Ming DeMers/Sun Assistant Photography Editor

08:37 a.m.: demonstrators discuss next steps for their protest on the second day of the continued occupation of Day Hall.

May 12, 2023

Demonstrators Return to Day Hall for Second Day of Occupation

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After sleeping in tents on May 11, demonstrators returned to Day Hall at 8 a.m. and remained committed to occupying the administrative building. 

The group of students and Starbucks workers are demanding for the University to cut ties with Starbucks after their closure of all three Ithaca stores that unionized last year. 

The move follows other efforts from Starbucks Workers United that went on strike after the closures were announced. 

Update 11:19 a.m.:

At 10:55 a.m., Vice President of Student and Campus Life Ryan Lombardi and Dean of Students Marla Love met with the demonstrators to mediate the situation. 

At 10:57 a.m., Love and Lombardi present the terms of meeting with Martha Pollack to Nick Wilson ’26 and Evan Sunshine ’24 in the lobby of Day Hall on May 12. (Julia Nagel/Sun Photography Editor)

Lombardi explained that President Martha Pollack returned to the United States and is currently in New York City, but he offered to provide students and demonstrators a meeting with Pollack at 1 p.m., with representatives meeting in-person and the President on Zoom.

This meeting will be held on the condition that the demonstrators cease their occupation of the building and that only four representatives would be allowed in. 

The demonstrators were given until noon to deliberate what their decision would be. They are currently discussing their next steps.

Update 12:32 p.m.:

Lombardi and Love came down at 12:06 p.m. to communicate with the demonstrators about their decision. The demonstrators told Lombardi they would exit the building on the condition that the University commits to satisfy their demands in the meeting.

Among their demands are disclosing the terms of their current contract with Starbucks, establishing a procedure to end the University’s contract, disclosing who the stakeholders able to terminate the contract are and an agreement to have a follow-up meeting scheduled by May 15 to take place before May 31. 

“I think we came out with a list of perfectly reasonable demands that are answering a couple of simple questions about what we need to do to work together and make this happen,” Danielle Donovan ’25 said. “If the administration can’t answer a few simple questions and meet with us then they are not negotiating in good faith.”

Organizers discussed the asymmetry of information between the University and the organizers over the contract with Starbucks and the unequal nature of the discussion between them and administrators. 

“All we are asking for is for enough information to be discussed in this meeting that we can have a level of conversation that allows us to negotiate an end to this dispute. That’s what we want,” Nick Wilson ’26 said. “We would like to get out of here and find a way to reach our demands in a way that is amicable to all parties involved. Cornell needs to let us do that by agreeing to these conditions.”

The demonstrators stated that they intend to re-occupy Day Hall if the demands aren’t satisfied during the meeting.

Lombardi claimed that the administration needs to get the message back to Pollack and awaits her response. They argued demonstrators did not give them enough time to address the situation. However, demonstrators responded by citing a form letter sent and signed by over 400 students to Pollack last Friday. 

Love and Lombardi went back to the office at about 12:18 p.m.

Update 12:54 p.m.: 

Lombardi and Love addressed the demonstrators again, saying that they discussed the demands with Pollack and disclosed their agreement. 

According to Lombardi, Pollack agreed to disclose the contract end date, confidentiality clauses, stakeholders for termination and schedule a follow-up meeting. Pollack stated that some details of the contract would remain undisclosed. Love explained that some contract details can’t be disclosed due to non-disclosure clauses. She also emphasized that the demonstrators need to exit Day Hall during the meeting.

Lombardi and Love promised the demonstrators that there would be no immediate consequence if the protesters decide to reoccupy the building after the meeting if they did not comply with their terms.

The demonstrators took five minutes of confirmation time, where they accepted the meeting terms and conditions putting a pause on the occupation of Day Hall.

Update 2:47 p.m.:

At 1:40 p.m., the four representatives of the protestors gave a statement in front of Day Hall regarding the discussions at the meeting. 

They discussed the contract between the University and Starbucks, which is due to expire in 2025. According to the organizers, Pollack emphasized the administration would reconsider the contract.

“We are appreciative with the verbal commitments by the administration to hold the meeting with the stakeholders to have the ability to make a decision pertaining to the contract,” Wilson said. “We really hope they honor that commitment [and] if they do not, student action will continue to make public the will of Cornell students that we think it’s unacceptable what Starbucks is doing in Ithaca.” 

Pollack also discussed releasing a statement on a Student Assembly resolution regarding the University’s relationship with Starbucks with her position by the middle of next week. The organizers also expressed how Pollack agreed to schedule a second meeting by May 31 with the following stakeholders: Procurement, Legal, Cornell Dining and Student and Campus Life. 

The organizers shared that Pollack and Lombardi declined to comment on their personal opinion regarding the actions taken by Starbucks. The organizers expressed disappointment by the lack of comment, citing the implications of those actions in the community and the student body. 

“This is an issue that affects the Ithaca community dearly, and we think any responsible stakeholder has a responsibility to speak out even if it’s only as an individual stating your intention,” Wilson said. “‘I think what Starbucks did was wrong’ is a statement all of us should be able to make comfortably. We were disappointed the administration wasn’t able to do that.”

The organizers also reiterated that if administration does not schedule the meeting by May 15, they would consider re-occupying Day Hall. 

Organizers also shared that administrators commented they did not appreciate their actions, citing they should have used the official channels, to which they responded by reiterating they did use proper channels and also cited their results as testament to their actions.

“We put blood, sweat and tears into this kind of organizing, we have been getting very little sleep and we have chased every possible avenue,” Grant Moravec ’23 said. “We talked to students to reach out to administration, we talked to [the] student assembly to reach out to administration, we raised money for the workers. We took direct action, and it led to results.” 

At 2 p.m., after a vote, protesters ended the occupation.