Barker Center Ends Free Coffee Program

Students Miss Complementary Morning Java

Bora Fezga

Budgetary issues have forced the Barker Center to stop offering free coffee to students in the morning.

Sleepy students looking for their weekly Friday dose of free coffee from the Barker Center Café will instead now be greeted by a sign that reads: “We regret that the current financial climate does not allow us to continue to fund the free coffee program.”

The passing of the program, formerly sponsored by the office of the dean of arts and humanities, has drawn questions from Barker regulars, according to café supervisor Dorothy “Dottie” A. Melin, though most appeared to take the cut in stride.

“A majority of the people who come here are very nice and very understanding,” Melin said. “Although a couple of people, and I’d say three so far, have had some hot feelings,” she said.

According to Melin, many café-goers have inquired over the disappearance but were still willing to pay for their coffees.

“But in this scary time you just can’t buy things every day, and that includes coffee,” Melin said.

Sociology graduate students Ethan A. Fosse and Nathan E. Fosse said they were unnerved by the language of the sign.

“Harvard’s endowment is still huge, even though it is shrinking,” Ethan Fosse said. “It would be great if they were more transparent about where the money they cut was going.”

Nathan Fosse said he was “very surprised” by the elimination of free morning coffee.

“Mentioning the ‘current financial climate’ just adds to this culture of austerity,” Nathan Fosse said. “I can still pay two dollars for the coffee, but this still sends a strong message, and it concerns me.”

The coffee cut joins a long list of cost-reduction measures implemented at Harvard’s schools as they struggle to reduce budgets in the wake of an unpredented drop in the endowment.

The Barker Center Café initially served free coffee from Starbucks Monday through Friday once at 9 a.m. and again at 3 p.m. But two years ago, the cafe restricted free coffee to 9 a.m. and later to only Fridays.

“Harvard’s the richest place around here,” Melin said. “If they can’t even afford the coffee, it makes us wonder, you know.”

—Staff writer Shan Wang can be reached at wang38@fas.harvard.edu.