I realized last week that I should have signed up to be one of the student liaisons to the Coop board. Not because I care so much about the future of the Coop and my humble part in it, not because I have an excessive amount of time on my hands and certainly not because I glory in running for any and every elected office (especially those which are generally overlooked and universally ridiculed). No, I should have taken on that particular "civic" duty because perhaps my lone voice could have somehow prevented the Coop's latest move: the supposedly temporary closing of the Bow and Arrow Pub and neighboring Baskin-Robbins/Dunkin' Donuts franchise.
The ousting of these longtime Bow Street establishments is ostensibly to last only a few months, while the Coop--Cambridge corporate citizen extraordinaire that it is--renovates and beautifies the building. But considering the stated attitude of Coop President Jeremiah P. Murphy '73 (who said they as owners are seeking "the best type of tenants for Harvard Square"), when the building reopens, it seems likely that the Square will soon be one bar and 31 flavors short.
This is old news; if it didn't involve beer, donuts and ice cream, I would assume that the issue would already be off most campus radar screens. And maybe it already is. But I believe that would be a mistake. I believe we need to look up from our books and take notice. I believe, in fact, that this is our moment to unite, to rise up and make a grand gesture against the unfeeling powers of corporate America, who are stripping our surrogate hometown bare before our very eyes.
I move that we stage a massive student boycott of the Harvard Square Coop.
Go elsewhere for your office supplies (Bob Slate), books (Harvard Bookstore or practicallyanywhere.com) and Harvard insignia gear (the man behind the escalator in the T station will get you a fabulous deal). If you have a young child in the family that cannot, simply cannot go on without that "Someone at Harvard loves me" teddy bear, you are exempt from this protest movement--who am I to crush the dreams of a child? (If you yourself simply cannot go on without a daily supply of Harvard clothes, stationary and teddy bears, you too are exempt. Because you scare me.)
What better mode of protest for the busy Harvard student than one that requires absolutely no extra effort--one, in fact, that requires you to stop doing something and thus will be sure to free up your schedule? By the time we reach the second semester of the boycott, the Coop will be so frightened of losing all its business to amazon.com that they will accede to any demand. Our demand, of course, will be that they leave the Bow and its neighbors alone or, failing that, take some precautions to ensure their return in the fall.
Sure, we might take some flak for the embarrassing fact that only the threatened loss of our beer and ice cream--rather than, say, the plight of the grape-picker or sweatshop worker--was able to motivate us apathetic Harvard students into action. But who are They, whoever They turns out to be, to deny the importance of beer and ice cream?
Because I would never be so foolish as to ask this campus to rise out of its communal apathy without a good reason, I've come up with a series of arguments carefully crafted to convince the disparate portions of the Harvard student body that a Coop boycott is a good idea.