By Michael Abeyta
DENVER (CBS4) – Christina Hughes is a Psychology major at the University of Colorado Denver, but she is more involved with campus life than the average student.
“I actually serve on a diversity and inclusion committee for the college of liberal arts and sciences,” she explains.
It was in one of these meetings that she heard about a new vendor coming to CU Denver’s yet-to-be-completed Lola & Rob Salazar Student Wellness Center.
“My immediate reaction was shock and confusion because this was not something that had been publicized to students,” Hughes said.
That vendor is ink! They are a Colorado coffee company that found themselves in hot water when a marketing company they hired posted a sign outside of their location at 28th and Larimer Streets that said “Happily gentrifying the neighborhood since 2014.”
Some community members felt like the sign was an insult to people from traditionally lower income neighborhoods who have been pushed out because of renewal and revitalization.
Hughes was offended by the company’s sign and when she found out ink! was coming to her campus she didn’t like it.
“The fact that we use our diversity as a marketing tool to get students to come to this campus to then make a move to be in a relationship with a vendor that not only doesn’t hear the voices of those communities but would be outright violent via their language just feels like a complete incongruence with who our campus is,” she said.
Hughes and some of her fellow students started an online petition asking CU Denver to keep ink! off of the Auraria campus. They also sat down with officials from the university to voice their opposition.
CU Denver released the following statement about the matter.
“We have communicated to our student government association and to the students concerned about the proposed coffee vendor’s location on campus that we appreciate their patience as we work through legal issues. We have assured our students that we will be in touch as soon as we can regarding the project status and next steps.”
Hughes says she hopes CU Denver decides to terminate their contract with Ink!, but if they don’t students aren’t ready to concede just yet.
Students are not just going to say, ‘Oh you’ve allowed them to move in I’ll just let it go,'” she said.
She hopes personally she can make an impact on the Auraria campus for future students.
“I want to feel proud of what I left. I want to feel like I left my campus better than how I found it.”
ink! released this statement to CBS4: “We remain excited about our partnership with the CU Wellness Center and its students. Over the past few months we have embraced the lessons we needed to learn, and are committed to continuing to apply them to our business and to our lives. Our CU Wellness location would benefit the students in many ways, from striving for 100%-student held employment opportunities to internships and training – including inclusion and diversity training, which the NAACP has provided to us, and which we continue to go through ourselves. We have met with community neighbors and leaders , including the NAACP , and whole heartedly understand the sensitivity of this issue. We fully understand the history and significance of the Auraria Campus area where the CU Wellness Center now sits, and view this as an opportunity — to both connect more deeply with the students and the entire University community, and to continue to provide and embrace opportunities for learning.”