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Saturday, April 20
The Indiana Daily Student

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Starbucks: bachelor of fine business

It is rare to see an act that does not seem to come with an expectation for
compensation.

This is especially true when done by a corporation where nearly anything can be construed as a PR stunt.

However, I don’t believe this is true for Starbucks’ recent announcement to pay for two years of online education for its employees.
 
At least currently, it seems like a no-strings-attached program designed to provide its employees the ability to receive a secondary education and go beyond their current job as barista, manager or coffee scientist, the ones who make drinks with a minimum of five different additions to that coagulated mess.

For those who are not familiar with Starbucks’ proposal, it says an employee can study in any area that he or she wants and then leave whenever they want after they earn their degree. There aren’t any expectations for Starbucks’ employees to remain with the company after they graduate.

This initiative gives me a glimmer of hope for the existence of a company that cares beyond profit margins.

Especially in light of the recent events at General Motors, which is being investigated for taking over ten years to recall 2.19 million U.S. cars with a fatal ignition switch flaw, public disillusionment in any for-profit company is largely justified and the same is often true of nonprofit organizations as well.

How many people do not feel a twinge of doubt when donating to the World Wildlife Fund or the Sierra Club that they will actually use the money to preserve wildlife?

I believe it is safe to say everybody at least has a seed of this disillusionment planted somewhere within them.

It forces us to never have complete faith that a group will act without expecting something in return.

But I believe Starbucks’ program is a good step forward in restoring faith, or at least a morsel of belief, in organizations.

Of course, Starbucks will receive a lot of publicity, public goodwill and a more educated workforce from this, and I expect it will increase its sales and its already monumental revenue.

Even if the immediate costs of paying college tuition outweigh whatever increased revenues Starbucks might receive from this publicity and goodwill, it’s an investment in human capital, and, though it might not yield readily noticeable profits, it will return some good.

At the very least, it restores some hope of altruism in this capitalistic society.

allenjo@indiana.edu

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