The Georgetown Voice

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Corporal punishment, my daily dose of café-au-hell

Students of Georgetown, Inc. is the single worst organization at Georgetown University. It epitomizes the fact that college is not the real world, as so many postgraduates warn us. It operates in a fantasy land where bad business practices can still yield a profit, where employees face virtually no risk of being fired short of stealing from the company, where employers provide rivers of free alcohol, and where customers continue to patronize businesses that provide terrible service and sell goods at inflated prices.

My accusations may be strong, but I’m confident that most students, like me, have had awful experiences with the main business operations of the Corp, Vital Vittles, Hoya Snaxa, Uncommon Grounds, MUG, and Midnight MUG.

The Corp enjoys almost a total monopoly on on-campus food and beverage choices. Yes, there’s a Starbucks and Così in the Leavey Center, Saxby’s isn’t too far off campus, and there’s a GUTS Bus that runs to the Wisconsin Safeway. Even so there usually are lines at each of the Corp’s terrible establishments—and only so much of that can be due to painfully slow service. When it comes to the day-to-day activities of the average student, it just so happens that the Corp’s services are more accessible. This can only be attributed to their location, not to any efforts by the Corp to actually make their services desirable.

Students frequent the Corp locations because they have little to no direct competition—which means that there is, first and foremost, no price competition. Two dollars for a one-liter bottle of Coke? I’ve never paid more than $1.20 at a chain grocery store. A large blended coffee drink costs $5.00? McDonald’s has a comparable product for just over two bucks.

The second tragedy of the Corp’s monopoly is the complete absence of quality control. Its employees sit or stand behind a counter for three hours at a time. If the cashier at Starbucks coming off an eight-hour turnaround shift can go through a line of six people in less than ten minutes, so can Corpies. But they are more interested in chatting with their fellow barista about the weekend, changing the music on the iPod to something more pretentious and indie, or discussing a homework assignment with a classmate whose transaction they have already completed. Their relaxed attitude also leads to excessively long and slow-moving lines.

The service itself is also abysmal. Cashiers can’t seem to figure out how to be efficient. Slide my card before you start to bag my items. Why in the world can’t you find the barcode on my candy bar? How hard is it to remember that I ordered a large instead of a medium? How hard is it remember my order at all? Apparently, it’s quite difficult, because it has happened to me numerous times at all three Corp coffee shops.

And please, Corp, don’t think giving me a card for a free drink makes things any better. That’s just asking me to come back and endure another excruciating fifteen minutes at the worst business in the history of mankind, where I am guaranteed to have just as terrible an experience as I did when I got the card in the first place.

Starbucks does not run out of large cups. Saxby’s espresso machine doesn’t break down. Caribou always has ice. Everyone always has ice. Except for the Corp. Safeway doesn’t run out of its most popular items the day it stocks them. If you know you always run out of garlic salt bagels, do you know what you should do? Order more next time.

I’m inclined to believe that the Corp’s main problem is that while it appears to be a business, it is actually a fraternity that is merely operating under the guise of being a legitimate corporation. It asks its employees to work meager three hour shifts a few times a week, and in exchange provides them with a large network of friends, keg Wednesdays, extravagantly themed parties, and a smug sense of self-satisfaction that is wholly undeserved.

For all of the incorrectly made drinks, the hours wasted waiting in line at Midnight MUG, and the scarcity of garlic salt bagels, I say a big, fat “screw you” to the Students of Georgetown, Inc.

Clarification: This article failed to disclose the fact that Julie Patterson has previously applied for positions with the Corp. The Voice regrets the error.



62 comments on “Corporal punishment, my daily dose of café-au-hell
  1. Mike on said:

    I guess you have every right to feel like this considering how many times you applied and didn’t get hired, Julie.

  2. Kevin on said:

    Hi Julie,

    Rather than post a snide retaliatory remark – which would merely further the barbed rhetoric you’ve employed – I’d just like to say that you’re overgeneralizing. Can’t you admit that the same “smug sense of self-satisfaction” you attribute to the Corp is the exact same self-satisfaction you got when you posted this article? It’s hard to take someone seriously when their message is ultimately hypocritical.

    Also, with the Corp’s motto of Students Serving Students in mind, I think it might be possible for you to concede that the students behind the counter have similar stress levels and things going on in their lives as yourself – so if the drink doesn’t come out quite as fast as you would like, maybe you could cut your colleagues the smallest bit of slack. Yes they are operating a business, yes professionalism and service should come first, but don’t lump the entire organization into some scathing crusade just because you’re an impatient person who thinks their time is too valuable to repeat a drink order. This is Georgetown, all of our time is valuable.

    Life is a little easier for everyone around you if you don’t take yourself so seriously.

  3. Morgan on said:

    What good are you doing for the campus by writing negative, ranting articles? Sure the Corp is not always as professional as it could be, but at least they are trying to improve Georgetown somewhat. You are just a negative nancy that is bringing us all down. I’ve not always received the best service, but at the end of the day what they do is at least a little impressive. Long snarky articles are not. Mad disrespect.

  4. really? on said:

    Corpies sounding a little defensive today…

    There are Georgetown students have actual jobs that require a professional attitude and good service, and they have full course schedules to deal with as well. I don’t see a problem with asking for someone to actually do their job correctly. I’ve only been “wronged” by the Corp once, and I understand it’s a student job, whatever… but it’s really telling that the three responses so far don’t admit there could be any improvement. Heads up: in the “real world” you don’t get to talk back at the dissatisfied customer.

  5. Julie, why did you apply to the Corp if you feel that way? Don’t you think it’s relevant for readers that you applied to the Corp this fall?

  6. Vexed By Vittles on said:

    In full honesty, the comments here do not address the crux of Julie’s argument. At Midnight, servers are more fixated on fiddling with their iPods than with providing quality service. At Vittles, employees sit around flipping through magazines and pay little mind to customers waiting in line. To say nothing of those employees who sit behind a counter chatting with other workers while a big “NOT IN SERVICE” sign prevents them from doing any work. These are not so much criticisms of the individual students of the Corp as they are criticisms of Corp culture.

    Thank you, Julie, for pointing to serious deficiencies in Students of Georgetown, Inc. If the Corp wants to be considered a legitimate business, they should start acting like one. More competition might be just the thing to set their spines straight and put their house in order.

  7. Corpie on said:

    It’s both frustrating and maddening to see so much animosity over this issue. As a Corpie, I must say that we should not be so quick to insult, deride, ignore, or otherwise reject Julie’s criticisms; they are obviously based in real life occurrences that have happened to not only her but also other students. It would only improve our businesses and better our image on campus to listen to these critical student voices and what changes they want to see. That being said, if Julie’s intentions were to open a dialogue and improve the Corp’s services, then she quickly betrayed them. By disparaging the Corp and its employees through sarcasm and disdain, she turns what could have been an instructive discussion into an \us-them\ polemic that engenders the type of bitterness found in the comments above. A measured analysis of the Corp would have been better and achieved more than the flashy, cantankerous piece The Voice published. The pride with which she describes her visions of a furious internal email thread are demonstrative of how self-serving the article is.

    To actually address Julie’s argument, I must say, to a certain extent, your expectations are unrealistic. Yes, the Corp strives to be as professional as possible, and to discount the hours and hours of hard work that so many people put into it is ignorant at best, malicious at worst. More importantly though, you must understand that in the end the Corp is a student organization like anything else on campus with very limited resources. Not to belittle the work that student groups do, but by and large it is not masterful. Because student groups are student-run, they have limited resources. With these limited resources, they can only do so much. The Voice may be full of typos, a tour guide may fudge some dates or names, GUAFSCU may give you a shoddy debit card, and the Pep Band may miss a few notes. Professional alternatives exist for all these groups, but we don’t fault them or cry out again them in public editorials — because to compare these groups to those professional alternatives is unreasonable. We strive for professionalism, but in reality we’re students learning to do the best we can. To compare the Corp then to Starbucks or Safeway is unfair. These businesses have armies of upper managers and personnel whose sole responsibility is to oversee their stores and address issues as they arise. When Starbucks runs out of skim milk, they have the resources to immediately send someone out to buy more at a local grocery store (like Vittles! It happens all the time). If Vittles or UG run out of skim milk, they have to wait some time for their dairy vendor to return. No matter how much effort Corpies put into foreseeing issues like this and working to prevent them, as students there is only so much they can do. How can you fault your fellow student for that when they are at the mercy of outside vendors?

    The Corp makes for an easy target because of its exclusivity and its size, but the truth of its flaws is the same for all student groups. Instead of destructively railing against it and it alone, recognize that every student group has the same issues and help to address that status quo.

  8. kat on said:

    julie, i LOVE you for writing this article. you voiced a lot of opinions that i know many of us have felt but haven’t been able to verbalize. the corp’s service is terrible. mug is the worst. that is all.

  9. the truth on said:

    article in three words: step it up corp!
    I would agree- things need to be run better. I can say, however, I am so happy to have the corp on campus running things rather than aramark. Overall a great presence. Much more responsive and personal than a food or grocery service would do (imagine everything like hoya court, leo’s, or the bookstore!)
    but please please please corp a little more professionalism and inventory control would be great. And most importantly, why no greek yogurt at snaxa?

  10. Amen corpie! Very well said. This should prompt an important dialogue if people involved in conversation are willing to look at this issue through a practical lens. They’re not trying to be Starbucks or Safeway. They’re just tryna do our thing. And if you don’t like it, don’t support the corp. They have plenty of other loyal and happy customers (myself included).

  11. @Corpie on said:

    I think that is a fair point to make about supplies. Certainly customers shouldn’t be furious with the Corp if not everything arrives as fast as it would as Starbucks, Safeway, etc. But most of the criticisms above are related to customer service, or rather, the Corp’s lack thereof. Customer service is not something that requires a nationwide supply chain or armies of managers. It requires an attitude and an understanding of what a business stands for. Frankly, that attitude appears to be lacking at the Corp’s stores on campus.

    Beyond that, I certainly agree with your calls for an instructive discussion. Demonizing the Corp is not the right approach to solving its problems. But the Corp would do well not to ignore these criticisms, as they seem to represent more than just the views of the writer.

  12. Igor on said:

    some of your points I agree with, yes, but you’ve done yourself a great disservice by sensationalizing.

  13. This article is garbage. on said:

    When’s the last time Starbucks or Safeway gave money back to their customers? $40,000 of philanthropic (“customer”) service. SUCK IT.

  14. More regrets? on said:

    Does the Voice also regret not fact checking at all: 1L cokes are 1.50, and we actually have the cheapest drinks around.

    And ya we could do better, but we are constantly working on doing better (contrary to popular belief).

    PS the main bad buisness we do is FOR students: eating the coke tax, staying open for the summer, donating 40,000 back to the community.

    But I guess facts and good journalism are just too passé for the Voice.

  15. corp on said:

    completely agree with Igor – some legitimate criticisms but you totally nullified the argument by sounding like a bitter bitch. you can go get your garlic salt bagels at Starbucks, Saxby’s, or wherever you prefer…whose prices, I might add, are higher than the Corp’s. do your research! I’m glad the Corp’s prices aren’t as high as McDonalds’, considering the tactics that McDonalds uses to keep their prices low.

  16. fed up on said:

    First of all, this is an opinion piece, not a structured argument, so everyone chill the fuck out. Second of al, @corp, you just nullified your entire “argument” by calling the author a “bitter bitch”. Stop being sexist, and it sounds like you’re the one who’s bitter.

  17. I would just like to point out that Julie’s activities on facebook are “being a bitch” and “being a hypocrite” so to call her a bitter bitch is not sexist, it is how she describes herself.

    Also, as a Corpie who crushes lines, gives the best service I can, and only changes the ipod when there is no line I regret that you feel this way about the Corp. Apply to the external board of directors and make real change in the Corp instead of just complaining. Kudos for being the first journalist who used “Screw You” in an op-ed!

    @the truth: “step it up corp” is 4 words

  18. wait on said:

    Did the Voice just criticize the Corp for being pretentious and indie? Am I reading this correctly?

  19. waiting longer on said:

    in line for Corp services.
    I’m completely understanding of the reasonable Corp responses above, but exactly why the service is unprofessional and inadequate has yet to be defended. To pretend that the fact that you’re run by students cuts you slack is silly – I’m sure half of you have had Capitol Hill internships at one point or another where you didn’t ignore a waiting aide in favor of talking to your friend about her drunken hookup.

  20. hmm...I did votw. on said:

    So I find some things questionable in the comments for this article:

    1) Since when is the corp indie, there are definitely more bros and theatre kids, with the exception of Midnight Mug.

    2) The Corp is a non-profit, which is to its benefit because it fives Georgetown a reason to lower their rent (Some of the Corp scholarships are actually mandated by its rent agreement with the university. Cite: http://www.thecorp.org/giving-back/scholarships/mug-scholarship/)

    3)Tons of its money is spent discretionarily on “employee appreciation…The Corp is factually little more than a social network with a few serious, management type people on top.

  21. afterthought on said:

    funny because it’s true and Corpies don’t realize that some of us have jobs that require professionalism.

  22. @Kevin on said:

    Dear Kevin,

    I was referring to the fact that the Corp gives ALL of its profits directly back to the community in which it operates.

    Yours,

    Idiot

  23. Really? on said:

    The corp does deserve some criticism…but to write this??? It’s not objective in any way, and this piece could have actually had the potential to be a great discussion starter. I can’t believe the Voice would even publish this, it reflects negatively on their standard of journalism- even if this is an opinion piece.

    Also, Julie- how can you legitimately write this when you’ve applied to the corp (and gotten rejected!) every semester you’ve been here? Sore loser much?

    And one more thing, when you’re in lau studying for an exam at 1:30 in the morning, and you’re starving for a bagel and some good coffee….where are you going to go? Just sayin…

  24. A corpie on said:

    As another Corpie (a senior, who’s been working at the Corp since January of my freshman year), I have to say that everything, objectively speaking, that Julie pointed out is true — espresso machines have broken down. We’ve run out of ice. Some employees aren’t efficient, and others talk too much behind the counter at the different coffee shops. Orders get mixed up. Customers get frustrated.

    But when the espresso machine breaks down, Julie (and other Corp-haters out there), just know that we’re a) aware of it the second it happens, b) taking care of it the second it happens, and c) hate having to tell customers when we can’t give them what they want. Same goes when we’re out of a favorite syrup flavor, or when – god forbid – bagels sell out after Midnight has been open for over 12 hours. (Note, Julie, that Starbucks just plain stops selling bagels after a certain point during the day, and nowhere else will you find as many varieties and choices for bagel selection as you will at the Corp. Good luck finding your garlic salt bagel elsewhere.) But like others have pointed out, the Corp is wildly smaller than the comparisons you’ve noted, and the infrastructural difficulties we have reflect that. We work with small vendors and small equipment repair companies, and believe it or not, they aren’t always efficient either.

    As for the behavior of Corpies — I apologize for that. As someone who’s been doing this for three years now, I can’t stand when people linger behind the counter who aren’t on shift, distracting those who are. Know, at least, that the issue of professionalism is something we have been emphasizing and bettering every year. You weren’t here when I was a freshman, but believe me, we’ve improved, and we’ve improved because we don’t WANT to keep pissing off people like you. And for the people who still haven’t improved on shift, all I can say is, deriding the entire organization for the faults of those people is ridiculously frustrating and annoying. Some of us don’t suck, and some of us (the majority of us, actually), genuinely care about giving you good service.

    As someone above me wrote, some of us are line crushers and hard workers. I make a mean latte, and I’ll make it quickly. I’ll even make it for you, Julie.

  25. A corpie on said:

    When is the last time you were woken up at 6 am to handle an espresso machine that won’t turn on, a bagel vendor that didn’t deliver for the day, or an employee that overslept, Julie?

    Running a student run company is EXTREMELY hard. It’s not like deciding to open up a lemonade stand for the day. If you saw what goes into making everything work, I think you would be a little more empathetic. It’s not easy. Trust that we know we are not perfect, and that we are always trying to be better.

  26. Disappointed on said:

    As a student who has absolutely poured my heart and soul into the Corp over the past two years, I find this article demeaning to something that has been such a positive part of my college experience. I’m the type of employee who stops in Midnight Mug for a study break of my own, but ends up working unpaid for an hour, just so customers can get THEIR drinks faster. I don’t deny that some Corp employees are less dedicated than others, but to generalize your statements to over 240 of your peers is just unfair.

    I am also frustrated by the sheer lack of business knowledge this article exemplifies, especially in the pricing complaints. We are a company, and one aspect of running a business is the need to turn a profit (our revenues must exceed our costs). You fail to recognize the basic principle of economies of scale. We are less than 1% the size of Safeway or McDonalds in terms of annual revenue, and therefore are unable to negotiate contracts with vendors to buy products at a lower cost like these high-volume competitors can do. If you compare our prices of basic products to those competitors similar to us in size– think Wisey’s– you will see that what we charge is comparable and fair. In terms of coffee, we actually charge less than Starbucks for most drinks. In fact, Starbucks is in the process of increasing prices for the second time just this year. A venti mocha there costs more than $5…

    Finally, I would like to apologize for any negative experiences any customers out there have had with us. Unfortunate circumstances occur (broken equipment, shipment didn’t arrive, etc.), but the majority of us really try our hardest to provide excellent customer service and to remedy any such issues. We truly appreciate our customers, especially those who are understanding when mishaps occur. Hoya saxa.

  27. The Way I See It on said:

    Hi Julie,

    As a student of Georgetown I completely understand your frustrations. The Corp, nearly every student’s source of a morning bagel, afternoon snack, or late night dose of caffeine can be very frustrating. Believe me, I’ve been in the long line at Midnight MUG at 1:30 AM. It isn’t the most pleasant experience, but one that I am ultimately thankful for. To have a student-run non-profit that understands and can relate to the Georgetown experience is something I consider invaluable to my short time here on the Hilltop. Day in and day out my peers try really, really hard, for me, their “shareholder”.

    While finger pointing may be easy for some, it isn’t for me. From what I understand, The Corp chooses teams of dedicated and hard-working individuals to work to improve overall efficiency and customer service. The Corp, at the present time, tries it’s hardest to satisfy overwhelming customer demand. When I can’t order a specific drink, buy a certain food item, have to stand in a long line, or the barista makes my drink incorrectly, I feel hopeful knowing that the employees and leaders of the Corp are working to fix these problems.

    It’s unfortunate that you’ve had such a negative experience with the Corp. I don’t think employees of the Corp should apologize for making friends on shift. For many Corpies, this is their first or second semester working at a coffee or grocery service for the first time, mistakes are inevitable.

    Julie, I believe you have accomplished your goal of calling all Voice readers and Corp employees’ attention to our concerns. But I think you have to meet the Corp halfway. If you have a concern, or better yet, a constructive idea of how you think the Corp could serve you better, I implore you to become part of the dialogue, not the monologue.

  28. NeutralBody on said:

    Hey Julie,

    I share some of your frustration against the Corp. However, I have to say that we all need to remember the Corp is a student run organization. These students are not there just to be coffee makers and scan items. First and foremost, they are students- they have classes, midterms and social lives just like the rest of us. Yes, I have gotten a cold coffee from UG, had to wait 20min in Vitals to get a gift card, and believe me I have been pissed when I am waiting for a drink and hard-hit conversation are going on behind the counter. Yet, that does not change the fact that I love UG( probably one of my favorite spots on campus) and that I would get an Evil Empire any time of the day. I admire these guys and gals for what they do and for managing to pull such busy schedules especially people who handle accounting and finance of the company.

    As for the Corp, I really suggest that you get the word out there that the Corp is a non-profit organization and that it gives back to the community.

    Finally, I just want to say, I really am a neutral body so I would totally get it if that makes my comments invalid.

  29. Le desordre c'est moi on said:

    I thought yellow journalism had gone out of vogue.

    It’s truly disappointing that the Voice, my favorite on campus publication, published an article such as this.

    Ms. Patterson, your remarks wreak of rhetoric and stench of sweeping generalizations.

    However, you do point out a few valid deficiencies in the Corp’s business operation, and I think that the criticism will not go unnoticed.

    Yet, to echo opinions hitherto voiced, your expectations of a student-run organization such as the corp are excessive.

    To berate and disparage a group that has done, does, and continues to do an incredible amount of charity work for the community, surpassing many of its fellow student-run organizations on campus, is an immature analysis (if your article even deserves to be called an analysis) of the situation.

    Moreover, to issue a malicious attack on your fellow classmates rather than questioning the actions of the existing power structures– i.e. why Georgetown allows the Corp to have monopoly on student services– is the work of an exemplary ignoramus.

    The farce of your conflict of interest in writing this piece mirrors the buffoonery of your language: analogous to how the inanity of Glenn Beck’s television program reflects his intelligence.

    It’s a shame the voice has to resort to creating spectacles to gain readership; however, it is not their fault, this is merely a symptom of contemporary culture.

    -Guy Debord

  30. Corpie Overseas on said:

    I’m truly disheartened by the strong, derogatory words written in this article. Some of the comments are grounded by fact or by experience, and for those I apologize. However, most of what was written joins a monologue of rhetorically-deficient complaints, failing to identify concrete issues that may be alleviated. I believe I can speak for many Corpies in saying that this article, in many ways, is hurtful. The Corp is by in large a wonderful organization. The company provides its employees with an unrivaled learning experience down countless avenues of life. Granted there are flaws, but fixing them becomes part of the learning. And to go meta on you for a second, this very article presents itself as a learning experience.

    Very much like Disappointed said above, I know innumerable Corpies, myself included, who pour their heart and soul out to the organization. It’s the passion for \Students Serving Students\ that forms the strong backbone of The Corp and has driven the company since its inception.

    As I am abroad in Europe this semester, I regret not being able to better and more directly enact changes to improve upon the issues in question. However, I know my fellow Corpies will pull together and bring The Corp into a new category of excellence- thus avoiding any future attacks, such as this, against our brilliant organization.

    Finally, I encourage Julie and all those who fall into Julie’s category to consider channeling your frustrations into constructive, not destructive, criticism.

  31. Now that all the cards are on the table, I’d like to respond to the comments in a way that is far less heavy-handed than was my original article. I think some excellent points have been made by these comments, and I’d like to concede some and rebut others.

    First: Yes, this piece could be called hateful, sensationalist, negative, etc. I wrote it that way intentionally, not to piss off 240 Corpies but not to make serious policy recommendations, either. You may not believe me, but I did not expect this article to generate so much controversy or be so widely read. Had I anticipated that, I might have included more concrete examples of what is wrong with the Corp (because I certainly do have them). At the same time, a carefully considered argument without any touches of outrage would never generate so much buzz. People are talking about the Corp, they’re weighing the quality of their last few experiences, employees are reflecting on their own performance. I know I was negative, I know I’ve made many enemies, but I stand by what I said and how I said it. I do plan on drafting a more complete and professional critique of Corp services, however, and sending it on to the board with the hopes that they will, to the best of their abilities, act on the concerns that I know are shared by a large contingent of the student body.

    While I may sound like a “bitter bitch” in my article, and while I may have had a particularly unsavory overall experience with the Corp, I know that many students have had at least one experience similar to mine, and that at least some of the points I’ve made ring true for them as well. I might be impossible to please, but that does not mean that small improvements can’t make a difference for everyone else that patrons the Corp’s establishments.

    To those of you who suggest that because the Corp is a student-run organization I (we, really, as students) should “cut them some slack:” I have to disagree. As other commenters pointed out, many of us have had off-campus jobs or internships where the excuse, “I’m only a college kid!’ simply does not fly. Why should that be any different at the Corp? Why shouldn’t customers take the Corp seriously as a business? There is never an excuse for not operating up to standard. If the Corp is not trying to be Starbuck’s or Safeway, as one commenter suggested, they should! Both are well-run and have less of the problems I’ve mentioned. I know that these other establishments may have individual employees who are awful, so applying my frustrations to the Corp organization as a whole because of individual bad experiences may seem irrational. But my main beef with the Corp is in fact not with individual employees. It is with the institution as a whole for not putting in place methods to more stringently regulate the level of service provided by employees (no performance reviews, no negative or positive incentives for employees to consistently work hard, etc), for taking advantage of the monopoly they enjoy, and for fostering a “Corpie culture” that is detrimental to the business side of the company.

    I understand that embedded in the Corp is a social network. I don’t expect co-workers not to make friends or to socialize on the job. But I feel like the social aspect of the Corp is encroaching on the business aspect to the detriment of the latter. To me, the Corp is too much play and not enough work, and this is the root of the problem. A serious examination of public perception of the Corp could do the organization very well, because even if general opinions of the Corp as a fraternity, a social network, whatever, are untrue, it does say something about the way the Corp operates if everybody has this opinion. The Corp should not immediately raise its defenses in response to my article. It should look at how non-Corpies are responding to it. Almost every comment lambasting me for my “yellow journalism” has come from a corpie—and yes, I know who you are. Meanwhile, there are enough comments from customers who have had similar experience to warrant some reflection on the part of the service branches of the Corp.

    Finally, to those Corpie commenters who voiced utter disappointment at having someone be so unsatisfied with your services: a combination of ‘thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry.’ Thank you for taking the high road, for seeing that through all of my seething remarks I was voicing legitimate complaints, and for being diplomatic about it. I’m not trying to make enemies here. I don’t care if the Corp hates me, but I don’t want individuals to hate me. Second, I’m sorry that you were caught so off guard by what I’ve said. As I mentioned, I was not targeting individual employees in my piece. I don’t doubt that those hard-working, dedicated employees exist, even if I’ve never been served by them. I’m criticizing the institution as a whole and the culture it has created. I regret that you feel personally attacked. I hope that, when I come into UG and order an evil empire (because at the end of the day, that drink is fucking delicious) or go to Vittles for some Haribo gummies, you’ll still greet me with a smile.

  32. Danny Glover on said:

    \You may not believe me, but I did not expect this article to generate so much controversy or be so widely read. Had I anticipated that, I might have included more concrete examples of what is wrong with the Corp (because I certainly do have them)\

    Apologies for holding you to the adult standards of an industry you’re trying out during your college years.

  33. These are very legitimate points. You raise a lot of concerns and I personally believe that every corpie should strive to better his or her work ethic as well as The Corp as a whole. As far as your way of going about this change…exceptionally immature and ineffective. Like every company, The Corp needs to strive for excellence. If there are problems, it is up to us to fix them. The points you brought up are true to an extent, but your condescending language is irritating and immature. If you want Georgetown students to act like professionals why not start with yourself? You may accuse The Corp of not being a well oiled machine but your writing is far from remarkable. You hold us to high standards, and we will do the same for you. I’m proud of the Corp and I am proud to be part of a company that, despite its flaws, has helped the Georgetown community for the better.

  34. love on said:

    I LOVE GEORGETOWN, I LOVE THE STUDENTS OF GEORGETOWN, I LOVE CONSTRUCTIVE DIALOGUES AND I LOVE THE CORP!

  35. julie, just get off your high horse, admit you could have offered constructive criticism in a better way, and don’t expect to get any smiles when you buy your haribo gummy bears at vittles.

  36. Dear Julie,
    I agree with you on your article regarding the discrepancies you have had with service on your campus. I too have been to Georgetown and witnessed such atrocities. You are brave for writing such an argument, and your fellow students are morons for not recognizing the fact, that student run or not, a job is a job, and you must execute it with the best of your abilities. I don’t care if students have stress in their lives or if they are at a low point. At the end of the day, I want my coffee prepared in a timely manner, and I don’t want to deal with bullshit service. I got your back Julez…

    Dear Georgetown,
    Your campus is very beautiful and you can feel the history and heritage wherever you go. However, I do feel that the student run services are mediocre and could use a revamp. Julie, like many other disgruntled individuals, has the right to voice her opinion. Take it into consideration and fix your services. Don’t judge her based on the fact that you treated her with poor service.

    Dear CORPIES,
    I went to one of your parties. It fucking sucked.

  37. KitchenSink on said:

    This article and these comments are, collectively, a joke – I hope. (But it’s too early to be the April Fool’s Day issue.) It makes me sad to be an alum.

  38. Joseph on said:

    I’m really glad that someone brought this up! Kudos to you, Julie, for saying what we’ve all felt.

    That being said, while we’ve all felt it, it’s not the most articulated nor the most productive way to go about things.

    THAT being said, it’s like RAW emotion. It’s how so many of us FEEL when it takes 20 minutes to get a latte from MMUG and realize they got it wrong. It’s valid! It’s real! It should be written!

    I really don’t read this as a political argument but as a point of personal expression. You’re entitled to your experience and to share it, and I wish people would respect that. Of course, I feel that a more reasoned examination of the Corp’s lack of customer service and its institutional problems would be more productive and MUCH needed. And of course, I know lots of great people who work there every day.

    KUDOS to you for writing this. At the very least, it made some people angry and can begin a healthy dialogue on customer satisfaction.

  39. hmmm on said:

    Well then, Julie, can you answer the question everyone is asking? Why did you apply to The Corp?

  40. Anonymous on said:

    As someone who has spent more of his Georgetown career as a customer of the Corp than as a Corpie, Julie, I do understand some of your gripes. I have gotten orders wrong, I have really wanted a bagel only to find out that they were all sold out, and yes, I have even wondered why it is that I’m here waiting in line when it seems like there are some competent people just standing around doing nothing. Your basis is certainly justified, and I can see from where you’re coming. But, as a Corpie, I have to saw that I am appalled at this piece of writing. I try my damn hardest while I am working, doing anything in order to make sure the customer is pleased. I’ve burned myself countless times making drinks, just to get them right and perfect. Have I gotten drinks mixed up, yes. Have I forgotten things, most definitely. From my experience being behind the counter, my perception of things really changed, yet that is not an excuse. And for that, I truly and sincerely apologize.

    While I am sorry about your experiences, many of which I have had myself, I think it is unfair to portray the Corp and all of its employees in the way in which you have done. We make mistakes, there is no question about that, and while I’m not trying to make excuses for them all I can say is that we are trying our best to fix them. I know how cliché that sounds, but it is true. We don’t enjoy telling people that this bagel is out, or that the machine is broken or whatever it may be, but when something like that happens, we figure out what the best solution to the problem is. Unfortunately, that solution is not as simple as running out to get bagels at 11pm or calling coffee machine manufacturers to overnight a machine. In the end, we are a business, that, like any other business must operate within the confines of available budgets and resources. Having said that, you certainly have the right to be a little ticked off because that bagel that you were really looking forward to is no longer available. And again, it is for these mistakes, for these errors that I am sorry.

    However, it was with a sunken head and a sullen heart that I read your bitters words above. The core of you argument, for what it is, should be well received not only by the us but by Georgetown as a whole. But unfortunately, I feel like somewhere along the road your intentions turned sour. Julie, as someone whom you’ve never met, it was hurtful to hear those words. Not the real criticisms, no, but the scathing and intentionally vitriolic phrases that litter your piece. With that, I fear, that it was not your aim to provide constructive feedback, but badmouth and rant the Corp. This is America, and you’re certainly have the right to speak your mind, but to me at least, it seems like you only want to do harm to the Corp. In doing so, however, you only end up doing harm to Georgetown as whole. Let’s be honest, I think we all know that there are better channels and better means to voice legitimate criticism and gripes, perhaps in a constructive manner.

    At the end of the day, if you come into a coffee shop, I will be there with a smile on my face trying my best to make your experience great. I feel like we need to remember that we are all Georgetown. Julie, you are certainly not my enemy. While I wholeheartedly do not agree with the methods that you used to get your point across, I do not hate you, and I would like to think that you, albeit a little ticked off, do not hate the Corp either. Spewing hate, by either side, only makes things worse and makes real viable solutions more difficult to achieve. I feel like everyone, non-Corpies and Corpies alike, should start being honest, admits our wrongs, and address the issues at hand. The world is already a pretty messed up place, and there’s no reason to add to it.

    -Anonymous

  41. I'm Rich Bitch on said:

    Greed is good, greed is right, greed works. It seems she just isn’t gettin’ money nor gettin’ paid, that’s why she’s bitter

  42. Frank on said:

    Julie,

    First, I’d be interested to know where you usually shop. I’d love to find a place store where nothing ever goes wrong, where the employees are always 100% devoted to serving the customer, and where college-educated staff make minimum wage but no money is spent on employee morale. After graduating, I lived in Chinatown for a few years. I recommend you check out the CVS on H Street by the Verizon Center and tell me that you get better service from those employees than you do from the worst Corpie on his worst day. The same goes for typical Safeway cashiers. Or, for that matter, the vast majority of young people working in retail who don’t always love every minute of their time on the clock.

    You like talking about “the real world.” In “the real world,” stores run out of things, minimum wage employees aren’t always chomping at the bit to make your drink at 9am, and most importantly, no one cares what you think. The biggest difference between The Corp and “the real world” is that Corpies actually DO care what you think. It’s just sad that you’ve decided to express yourself the way that you did. It reflects as poorly on you as it does any Corp service or individual Corpie.

    The most serious flaw in your “argument”–which I would personally call more of a temper tantrum, but that’s beside the point–is that you totally ignore the very legitimate reasons for almost all of your problems:

    You want better stocking at Vittles? How about you look into the storage situation in the Leavey Center and see just how little space the Corp has to work with. MUG has even less. Snaxa has none. Have you ever tried to rent year-round storage space from the University? I’m betting you haven’t because you seem more like the type to sit on the sidelines and complain while other people try to do things. But anyone who has tried (is probably a Corpie and) knows that it’s just not possible. Unless something has changed dramatically since the last time I was on campus, the buildings used by the Corp simply don’t have any additional space to store things. Even large coffee cups.

    You want employees to stop socializing and treat the Corp as nothing more than a “job”? Fine, but then you’d have to pay them more than $7.50/hr. to get them to do menial tasks when they could be interning on the Hill, or RA’ing for a professor, or making $10+/hr. working somewhere else on campus.

    Want to pay them more? Fine, but how about you look at what else the Corp spends money on, like rent. The University charges Vittles and UG a very high annual rent and provides almost nothing in return (even the maintenance that’s required in the lease, like air conditioner maintenance at Vittles. Hey, it’s Georgetown. Anyone reading this knows that the University isn’t great in the facilities department). Trust me, non-profit company or not, the Corp doesn’t skate by rent-free like, oh let’s say The Voice, when it comes to using University space.

    You want your exact type of bagel every single day? Fine, but how about you acknowledge the fact that in order to keep sustainable margins, perishable products like bagels and sandwiches basically need to sell out everyday or it’s practically a financial loss to sell them at all.

    You want cheaper soda? I suggest you reexamine your price comparisons on that one. What are the vending machines at now for 20 ounce bottles? I don’t think it’s $1.

    Finally, you want to work for the Corp, as your applications prove that you do? How about you make an effort to exhibit the qualities of a person with decent character. That would involve taking your gripes–and that’s what they are, gripes, not earth-shattering, life-or-death complaints–to the people who can (and would) work hard to fix them. That would be much more effective than running to a “newspaper.” (Whether the Voice qualifies as a newspaper is a topic for another day, but suffice it to say that I have my doubts.)

    To be fair, I will lay out my own personal bias–something you also failed to do in your piece. I worked for the Corp from September of my freshman year until the day I graduated. I ran Vittles for two years. I graduated several years ago, and to this day, my closest friends are almost all people I met through the Corp. I learned more through my Corp experience than I have in any other job I’ve held since. The Corp has been a more frequent topic of conversation in job interviews than anything else I have on my resume, and with good reason: the job was more complex and involved more responsibility than most 19 year olds have the opportunity to experience.

    Thinking of all the hours I spent in Vittles with my coworkers (really though, my friends, which is a GOOD thing for the purposes of employee sanity), I know that we succeeded in some ways and failed in others. I’ll give you that much. But I will never accept a characterization of Corpies as people who don’t care about their services and don’t try to make them operate well. Your characterization of Corpies is entirely wrong. Your complaints are largely ill-founded, reflect a fundamental ignorance about how businesses at Georgetown operate, and fail to account for the realities of running a company while being a full-time college student.

    I admit that I respond somewhat emotionally to attacks on the Corp (though, unlike you, I did manage to work some actual facts into this comment too, instead of just throwing around anecdotes and personal musings about what bothers me). You, on the other hand, do not seem able, or maybe just aren’t willing, to fairly discuss Corp businesses. Maybe that’s because we wouldn’t hire you. Maybe it’s because you’re just cranky for some reason. It happens. We’ve all been there. Either way, you owe Corpies an apology.

    As a final note, for the sake of your own health and mental stability, you probably shouldn’t get so worked up over coffee shops and grocery stores. If the worst thing that happens to you in a day is that you have to wait on a line during your free time to buy a luxury item while at a top 25 University, you’re probably doing alright in the grand scheme of things. Even if the Corp won’t hire you.

  43. Former Starbucks Barista on said:

    Julie — Thank you for your honesty and let-it-all-hang-out kind of directness. I’m sorry that people seem to be attacking you for merely letting your Voice be heard.

    The fact of the matter is, I worked at Starbucks for 7 months, and baristas would be fired if they behaved the way the Corp employees do. I don’t have much to complain about Vittles and Snaxa — but the coffee establishments leave a lot to be desired. As much as I appreciate the student-run aspect, the fact of the matter is that students managing students always results in a bit of a popularity contest, and the people that fit the image get hired more often than the people who can actually do the job better. That being said, I don’t think every single CORP member is the spawn of satan, I just think that there are some serious issues with efficiency and product quality that should be addressed.

    I don’t pretend to have all the answers, and I’m sure that someone will bash my comment as much as they have bashed the others, but the simple fact is — the CORP makes sub-par coffee beverages in a slow-as-molasses fashion, and they usually come out lukewarm. Starbucks requires milk-based beverages to be at least 140 degrees — if they use leftover milk in a pitcher. New milk is steamed to about 150-60 degrees. And I’m here to tell you, that burned espresso shots mixed with sort-of warm milk or shaken in an iced cup so that your beverage isn’t cold AT all, is just an illogical way to make drinks. A real barista needs to come in and put the CORP coffee institutions in their place.

  44. Dear Stephanie Clark,

    I applied to the Corp because I needed a job. Sorry if my life would be easier by working at an establishment within a few hundred feet of where I live.

    Now that I’ve answered your burning question I hope you’ll stop commenting under false names while trolling the comments of a college newspaper’s website.

  45. Doug on said:

    Julie, Thanks for writing this. It articulated a lot of what I have been thinking. Unlike many of the above commenters, I’m also appreciative of the tone you wrote it in. This wouldn’t have grabbed my attention or felt so refreshingly honest written in a reserved tone. As others have noted, this isn’t an news or research article, this is an opinion piece, and sincerity and emotion comes along with that.

    While most of my frustrations have been at Midnight Mug, to me the greatest example of how the Corp has been held to a lower standard is at Vittles. For years, there were no prices on anything they sold. That is simply not something that would fly in the real world. I asked them about this, and they said it was because their inventory was so constantly in flux. That’s crazy. Every other store has a changing inventory, and even ones that cater to shifting fads, like Toys R Us or fashion stores, manage to have prices for every product they sell. It’s just part of what a store does. You have doors, you have products, you have shelves, and you have prices on those shelves. It’s absolutely silly to think a store that can’t find the time to print out prices should be taken seriously.

    To me, the best example of a student run service is the credit union. They have well-kept facilities, a professional atmosphere, good communication, and they do it all at no pay while offering the best rates in town. Because people know when it comes to handling money, you don’t mess around. The culture is just entirely different: it’s one that exudes professionalism.

  46. @Anonymous on said:

    “The world is already a pretty messed up place, and there’s no reason to add to it.”

    Go fuck yourself.

  47. @Doug on said:

    Sorry not everyone can work for free at the Credit Union because of their parents’ trust fund back home in Connecticut. Sorry Vittles isn’t Toys ‘R Us. Sorry the menu at the restaurant I work at isn’t always super up-to-date when we run out of things like shrimp or tortellini during dinner. Sorry that people at the Credit Union are fucking retarded for messing up so many things with my money OR for giving me a shoddy debit card that has a 32% chance of working anywhere.

  48. Frank on said:

    @ @Frank,

    Ah, I’m already happily dating a Corpie. But I do appreciate the anonymous-Voice-comment love!hic

    @ Doug,

    I respect the credit union a great deal, but really, you can’t compare their operation to the Corp’s because they’re just totally different. They have one location and virtually no inventory. (Do they have any inventory?) They don’t have to deal with the daily traffic of 5-15 vendors. They don’t have to change prices on a constant basis to account for increasing vendor costs (which happens constantly without any warning or notice from vendors). I’m sure their are logistical challenges in their operation as well, but it’s just not the same. And really, they have long lines sometimes too, for the same reason that the Corp does: because their service is in high demand. As far as employee culture, from what I remember, the credit union is actually pretty similar to the Corp, which I think is good for both.

  49. @NYCHoya on said:

    I’m a Class of 2007 Alumnus living in New York who worked at Vital Vittles for 2 years, and I’m sorry that the author of this piece has had so many bad experiences, but I’m ashamed that the Voice decided to publish her rant as some form of opinion piece – I could write to the New York Times about the annoying new police sirens or ever-present dog poop on my sidewalk in the East Village, but I doubt it will get published.

    But as for the un-ending praise of NYSE:SBUX, I personally think their service is horrible, both when I was on campus and now that I live in New York City. I go to Starbucks almost every day with my VP at the same time and they manage to screw up my drink order (tall coffee misto, skim milk) almost every time. And forget about my local Key Food – the cashiers spend half the time on the phone, so I wait in the long line for self check out. Oh and Trader Joe’s in Union Square has a line out the door.

    You know why I continue to frequent these places? Starbucks is downstairs in my office, Key Food is on my corner, and Trader Joe’s has lower prices than Whole Foods. Welcome to the real world, Julie – we need to make sacrifices, whether its for speed, price or attitude. If you don’t like the Corp, don’t shop there.

    As far as the training of the employees are concerned, while I know for some people Starbucks / Grocery Stores / Etc. were after school jobs, for many people, that is their sole professional role. If my job was to make lattes, I’d make an awesome latte. But unfortunately, Corpies don’t pay $50K in tuition a year to be baristas and checkout clerks – as my parents said when I told them I was joining Vital Vittles, “Remember, school is your job.” So while focusing on school is no excuse for poor service, I also don’t expect a latte made during finals week to be crafted like it was from Demel in Vienna.

    While the Corp may be criticized as a pretentious fraternity, I made some excellent friendships during my years working there, and it has been a great resource professionally (I am an economic consultant). This criticism could be levied against any student organization at Georgetown – NSO, GUAFSCU, even the publications such as the Voice. Lighten up, and maybe if you greeted your cashier or barista with a smile, you would get some better service.

    -Allison, SFS and Vital Vittles ’07

  50. Lynn on said:

    Just found this article. As a freshman, a lot of the comments bother me. For example, where is it ever ok to be incompetent at work? How can people be making excuses for students that are bad at their jobs? If you don’t have the skills/commitment, I don’t want you making my drink! It’s shouldn’t be too much to expect quality from Georgetown students. If you are busy/stressed, get a student guarding job so you can do your work. At least there you can sit on your ass and not inflict your mediocrity on other people.

    Yay Julie, you’re my hero!

  51. Bump. on said:

    @Lynn

    “If you are busy/stressed, get a student guarding job so you can do your work. At least there you can sit on your ass and not inflict your mediocrity on other people.”

    I’m not surprised you are a freshman. Relatedly, I am not surprised you are a moron. I don’t think I can even attempt to explain the stupidity of your comment.

    Also Julie,

    As I’m sure you know, you’ve become somewhat of a cultural touchstone for Corpies. Because of that fact, I’d like to be you for Halloween (or more personify your article). I wanted to ask for your permission first though. Of course, I will be respectful.

  52. Matt on said:

    A selection of featured interests on Julie Patterson’s Facebook profile: “Being a Bitch, Being a Hypocrite.”

    You are the worst.

  53. Pingback: Vox Populi » FROSH Preview: #GeorgetownProblems

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