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  • The Claremont Independent

The Motley monopoly

It’s Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, and the spring semester has officially started at the Claremont Colleges. Back to late study nights that entail midnight snacking and caffeine highs. In order to face another intense study schedule—staring at a textbook with blood-shot eyes, unkempt hair and a growling stomach—we need grub. Pomona’s Coop Café? Check. CMC’s Hub Store? Bustling. Pitzer’s Grove House? Open. Mudd’s Jay’s Place? Got it. Scripps’ Motley? Dark, dead, with a “Closed” sign hanging from the door for well over the first two weeks of this academic semester.

When questioned about their late opening, the Motley management claims that they need to train their baristas and make a work schedule during the first weeks of the semester. (Meanwhile, the managers use the space as a personal study lounge.) Yet all the other student-run food joints on campus open early, with trained workers and a running schedule! What? Who? How does the Motley get away with this when all the other colleges’ food Meccas are open and serving? The Motley permeates entitlement with its pristine location in the center of all 5-C’s, freshly baked goods, good-looking baristas, and quirky atmosphere strewn with colorful breast-castings and tampons next to the register. Regardless of when the Motley officially decides to open to the public and regardless of how much we all complain about our caffeine deficiency, nobody will boycott the Motley! We are upset about their late opening because we love them so much. Boycotting the Motley would mean choosing to deprive our taste buds of an experience in addition to prolonging accessible caffeine.

Sure, we all have coffee machines in our cafeterias, and a few other school cafes provide us with drinks, yet we rush to the Motley after class and wait in long lines out the door. We’re even willing to pay that extra dollar to have a “to-go” cup because the Motley is worth it. 5-C’s! The Motley has a monopoly over the coffee business and we need to speak up! The rest of the Consortium’s café’s face market competition. They keep each other in check. Yet, why do we put up with the Motley’s dawdling? In addition to their late opening, the Motley is constantly running out of supplies—occasionally without the proper juice for their smoothies, without straws for their iced drinks, and without cream cheese for their bagels. I have experienced the displeasure of strawlessly sipping my “to-go” iced chai as I lifted the cup and was forced to avert my focus from my studies in order to avoid spilling. 

A coffee shop in the consortium competent enough to challenge the Motley is nonexistent. What then should we do? Should we oblige to the Motley’s schedule and put up with their occasional lack of ingredients? We justify our Motley excursions, reasoning that we only have to put up with this for four years and it’s not that big of an inconvenience. And after all, there are other coffee venders on campus (which is comforting to know, even though it is unlikely that we will utilize any other café). Will we just sit back as the Motley drains our Flex with their “to-go” cup policy, or opt to inconvenience our schedules by refusing to pay and sit inside the lively atmosphere and sip from a ceramic mug? Are we audacious enough to boycott?  Perhaps not, because if one is, she or he was never truly an ardent coffee lover and this entire dilemma is deemed irrelevant anyway. So as I am contemplating how to overcome this power struggle that is the “Motley monopoly,” I am currently sitting in the Motley, listening to Florence and the Machine and sipping a non-fat, large Chai tea Latte from my personal ceramic coffee mug, daringly defying the extra dollar “to-go” cup policy.


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