Left-wing cancel culture has claimed a victim on Boise State University’s campus. Now, more than 20 students are out of work because student government officials successfully bullied a small business into shutting its doors.
A few weeks ago, Big City Coffee opened a second location in Boise, housed in Albertsons Library on the Boise State University campus. Just last Thursday, owner Sarah Fendley shuttered the new campus location for good.
More than 20 female students who had been hired to work in the small shop suddenly found themselves unemployed during a pandemic.
Why did Big City Coffee close? Outrage from woke social activists who deeply misunderstood and mischaracterized the owner’s political beliefs.
Earlier this year, BSU’s dining services sought a coffee vendor to replace Starbucks in the library location. After entertaining offers from several local shops, BSU selected Big City Coffee to serve the student body at Idaho’s largest university.
Why did BSU choose Big City Coffee? According to a BSU dining services staff member: Student demand. Brian Holzworth, the resident district manager with Boise State’s dining services, told BSU’s student newspaper, The Arbiter, “I reached out to student employees and discussed options for local coffee options to replace Starbucks. The overwhelming response from an all Campus Services meeting was Big City.”
Shortly after the shop opened, left-wing activists in the BSU student government initiated a university-supported assault on the small business.
University documents show that school officials made Big City Coffee’s presence on campus the centerpiece of several meetings.
Why was Big City Coffee so controversial? Because Fendley, the shop’s owner, has been vocal in her support of local police.
But her support of local police isn’t a reaction to the rise of Donald Trump, nor did it come in response to the Black Lives Matter movement shortly after George Floyd was killed in Minnesota earlier this year.
Rather, Fendley’s support is personal: She is engaged to former Boise Police Corporal Kevin Holtry, who was shot five times while on duty in November 2016.
On Nov. 11 of that year, Holtry and other officers, including a police dog, Jardo, were pursuing an armed and dangerous fugitive involved in a shooting and carjacking. Holtry and his partner found and engaged the suspect.
Once found by Corporals Holtry and Davis, the fugitive opened fire in an attempt to kill the officers. During the ensuing gunfight, Corporal Holtry was shot and left paralyzed and defenseless on the ground. Corporal Davis sustained a gunshot wound to his upper leg and K9 Jardo sustained mortal gunshot wounds.
Holtry eventually overcame his life-threatening injuries, though he lost his leg in the firefight. He is now in a wheelchair. The suspect died as a result of wounds sustained in the gunfire exchange.
Fendley’s reasons for supporting law enforcement officials were likely not considered by BSU student leaders, who characterized the Big City Coffee shop as a haven of harm for students of color. Boise State University student government member Ryann Banks assumes as much in her complaints about the coffee shop.
Banks is the vice president of inclusive excellence for the Associated Students of BSU. The Sept. 28 ASBSU meeting minutes show how Banks wrongly wages war on Fendley and her shop. When asked if Big City Coffee supports the pro-police Thin Blue Line movement, Banks responds, “Yes, they support Blue Lives Matter, which was created after Black Lives Matter as a counter movement.”
Minutes from a Sept. 9 ASBSU meeting detail more of Banks’ falsehoods that led to the cancelation of Big City Coffee’s BSU contract. In that meeting, Banks said:
This company is going to encourage this type of behavior on campus and attract those types of people to our campus. It should not be up to marginalized students to fix this. It is up to the administrators to fix this and allow for students to have a voice. We have known for half a decade that they [the coffee shop] support Thin Blue Line and this is unacceptable and should have never happened.
The minutes do not show that Banks ever substantiated the claim that Big City Coffee would “encourage” any sort of behavior on campus.
Banks kept charging at the company. She told Leslie Webb, BSU vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, “Bringing this company on campus is silencing our students and if there is a way to end this now we need to do it. Leslie, please pass this on because there will be a demonstration and actions taken against this because it is not okay.”
Amanda Hawks, another ASBSU member, joined Banks’ campaign to shut down the coffee shop. Said Hawks in the Sept. 9 student government meeting, “With Chick-Fil-A, BPD, and now Big City Coffee, [BSU] has sent a message that the campus does not support Black Lives Matter. If there is a way to reverse this decision it should be done. If they come to campus it is sending a very harmful message.”
Lest anyone think this type of social justice activism remains solely with students, one high-ranking BSU employee sees this incident as an opportunity. Francisco Salinas, assistant to the vice president for equity initiatives, told students at the Sept. 9 student government meeting this type of left-wing, cancel culture activism could expand to secure what he sees as desirable behavior.
Salinas stated, “This could be the beginning of a revolution where we say that we have a standard for corporate partnerships that we have.”He added, “I believe we should have a standard that says we will not accept companies who act in certain ways because that will have a more lasting impact to protect students. It may be difficult but I think we should explore it.”
It’s unclear why Salinas believes students need protection from vendors who sell coffee and chicken sandwiches.
According to one source, Fendley invested tens of thousands of dollars on equipment for the campus location. It’s unclear if Boise State will compensate Fendley for her losses.
BSU officials did not return a call and several emails requesting a comment on the story.