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USF students demanding Starbucks ban escorted out of library sit-in

Student organizers offered free chai outside the library. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/ STUDENTS FOR SOCIALISM

Around 10 USF students participating in a sit-in protest at the library’s Starbucks were asked to leave the building by administration Monday morning.

Students for Socialism (SFS) organized the sit-in to protest the “unlawful treatment of its workers” at 9 a.m. and to urge the university to remove Starbucks from campus. 

SFS has petitioned to remove the coffee chain from USF, saying the corporation has violated 200 federal laws, according to an Instagram post

SFS said Starbucks violated the union workers’ first amendment rights by suing them for their pro-Palestine stance and has been responsible for “excessively damaging labor practices,” according to an email they urged students to send to President Rhea Law.

The sit-in comes just a day after SFS announced Law declined their request to ban Starbucks.

Related: USF denies request to ban Starbucks from campus

The group of protesters sat quietly holding signs in the Starbucks for 45 minutes before campus police informed the students they were violating USF policy. They were told the library was now considered an instructional site, according to an Instagram post from SFS.

“Apparently USF has changed their building codes for the library, essentially banning the ability to hold a piece of paper with messaging while sitting/standing in silence,” the Instagram caption read.

Spokesperson Althea Johnson wrote in an email that the university has clarified the USF library is not a space for protests and demonstrations to be held.

As part of USF’s commitment to providing a safe and healthy environment on our campuses, the university continues to review its policies and procedures regarding events and free speech activities,” Johnson wrote.

Johnson wrote all student organizations were informed about the change “earlier this month.”

She cited USF Policy 6-028, saying “activities cannot disrupt the normal course of university business.” 

The policy also says students cannot block entrances.

Two SFS students stood beside the entrance to Starbucks holding signs and explained why they were protesting when students approached them. 

While students held signs urging Law to “dump Starbucks,” other protesters passed out free chai with flyers explaining how Starbucks has violated labor laws. 

One flier contained a QR code inviting students to email Law and her staff and write to remove Starbucks from campus. An example email to copy and paste was available.

Johnson said the group complied and moved their demonstration outside the library.