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Boise State Facing $10 Million Tort Claim from Big City Coffee

By • March 28, 2021

Late last year, some students at Boise State University threatened to protest a new company on campus called “Big City Coffee.”

Big City Coffee was selected to replace the Starbucks location at the university’s library.

Controversy over the companies departure from BSU ensued, with Big City Coffee claiming they were forced off the university campus location. BSU, however, contended that Big City Coffee requested to be let out of the contract with the university.

Now, earlier this week, Big City Coffee said they would file a $10 million tort claim against Boise State University.

Listed in the claim as defendants are: Boise State University, Marlene Tromp (BSU’s President), Leslie Webb (VP of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management), Alicia Estey (VP for University Affairs and Chief of Staff), and Francisco Salinas (Assistant to the VP for Equity Initiatives.)

For those at Boise State who had fought against Big City Coffee’s presence on campus, the primary reason was Big City’s display of a “Thin Blue Line” flag at Big City’s downtown location and the owner’s support of law enforcement.  Sarah Fendley, the owner of Big City Coffee, said that the “Thin Blue Line” flag was never displayed on campus.

Despite the flag never being flown on campus, some students and school officials took issue with the off-campus display and the university’s selection process.

During an ASBSU meeting, minutes indicate that Ryann Banks, the VP of Inclusive Excellence Council, voiced her displeasure at the process in which Big City Coffee was chosen to replace Starbucks. In addition, banks made accusations against Big City Coffee to encourage support of Thin Blue Line behavior on campus.

In a meeting of ASBSU minutes from September 9th, Banks is quoted as saying,

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.

Banks is also quoted in the minutes of a meeting on September 29th saying the following about the approval process,

They used limited white feedback that is not affected by this. This is what I am worried about because they are not gathering information such as political affiliation and race. Marginalized students are the ones having to face the repercussions because of the lack of diverse feedback.

For Fendley, though, she said the “Thin Blue Line” flag was not a display of anything related to the Black Lives Matter movement. Instead, Fendley noted that she started displaying the flag after five Dallas police officers were killed in the line of duty back in 2016.

Fendley also said that the “Thin Blue Line” flag became more personal because her fiance was shot five times while on duty as a Boise Police Officer.

Fendley’s fiance, Kevin Holtry, who lost one of his legs in the line of duty due to gunshot wounds, now uses a wheelchair.

Holtry appeared on 670 KBOI’s Nate Shelman show and disputed the universities side of the story. Holtry told Shelman,

They just wanted her gone.

Holtry said that school administrators made it pretty clear that they wanted Big City gone from campus in a private meeting.

That was a direct contradiction to what Boise State said in their official statement on their Facebook page:

Boise State University has heard the community conversation regarding Big City Coffee’s location on campus.

Here are the facts:

As a popular local vendor in the community, Big City Coffee was invited onto our campus. The business opened this fall. Our students hold a wide range of opinions about this business. After some students began speaking out against the owner’s personal beliefs, we explained that we could not violate the First Amendment Rights of anyone on campus.

Following that, the owner requested to be let out of the contract. We agreed to the owner’s request.

At no time did the administration at Boise State ask Big City Coffee to leave campus. At no time did the administration ask Big City Coffee to compromise the owner’s First Amendment rights.

Boise State was working with the owner to help find a successful resolution to the concerns regarding free speech on campus. Big City Coffee’s recent actions signal that the business has chosen to leave.

Our campus is a place for all people to peacefully and freely express their views. A commitment to free speech is not unique to Boise State University; protecting speech is required by the First Amendment and is a core value of our institution.

Boise State has not yet released a statement about the tort claim.

After Big City Coffee departed from the university location, their downtown location had lines of customers coming out to support their business.

It remains to be seen what will come from the claim.

Will Boise State settle? Will they fight the claim? Will Big City Coffee win the claim in the end?

Let us know what you think in the comments below.


Tags: Alicia Estey, Big City Coffee, Boise State University, Francisco Salinas, Leslie Webb, Marlene Tromp, Nate Shelman, Ryann Banks, Thin Blue Line, Tort Claim

10 thoughts on “Boise State Facing $10 Million Tort Claim from Big City Coffee

  1. Big City Coffee may also be entitled to illegal taking/condemnation monies. Yes, they should be compensated.

    These monies are costing We The People’s Tax Dollars and caused by the failure of BSU’s management.

    While BSU continues their, “Woke Supremacy” policies/tactics, Idaho’s House and Senate need to defund them until BSU’s policies are both clear and appropriate.

  2. Defund Boise state from any kind of funding until they can quit supporting all this wok garbage and start teaching real education. Boise is starting to become a liberal cesspool of ignorant and stupid ideas and liberal agendas. I hope Big city Coffee wins and wins big.

  3. We are witnessing the steady deterioration of BSU in several areas. Too bad, It used to be a great institution of higher learning.

  4. Ryann Banks, BP of “inclusive excellence council” sure doesn’t sound inclusive when she says stuff like “ This company is going to encourage this type of behavior on campus and attract THOSE types of people to our campus.” Sounds very discriminatory to me.

  5. BSU students and staff responsible should be personally liable and have to pay for any settlements or tort judgments resulting from the lawsuits filed by Big City Coffee. Big City has every right to file these claims and we as taxpayers should not have to pay the bill for the hubris and error in judgment by the administrators who have acted outside of their roles on behalf of the University, and instead acted on their own personal distorted notions. Ironic how all these “diversity and inclusive” positions at universities are anything but inclusive and open-minded. Just like the “diversity editor” at USA Today who last week wanted to kick Oral Roberts University out of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, simply for their religious beliefs. What’s next – requiring a yellow star be worn by anyone that doesn’t follow the woke, Marxist, Leftist narrative?

  6. It’s sad to see this Tort Claim come against BSU, but I believe it’s warranted.
    Isn’t ironic that someone (Ms.Banks) who is VP of the ‘ Inclusive Excellence Council’ is complaining about the “process” whereby Big City Coffee was to replace Starbucks on the BSU campus, and further, Big City Coffee would continue to encourage support for ‘The Thin Blue Line’, and that this is “unacceptable”, even though there is no evidence at all that BCC would enter into some sort of police/support agenda on campus?
    Does she also reject calls for ‘defunding the police’?
    Would she be equally “displeased” by a vendor or student group showing support for BLM or Antifa? Or for Marxism, or Marxist rebels? Somehow, I doubt it.
    Would she also oppose real, honest American history to be taught, including all the thoughts, words and actions of our pilgrims and founders?
    The university campus is “a place for all people to peacefully and freely express their views”. That evidently doesn’t include anyone who expresses their support for law enforcement, or pro-American expressions, does it.
    What would Ms. Banks say if BCC put an American Flag in their area?
    This is so typical of the elitist/progressive mindset which stifles opposing thought and speech, and sadly, this mindset has slithered into Boise and BSU admin for some time now.

  7. The level of ignorance in this country is simply astounding.
    police are not killing people based on skin color, “white” people are killed by police far more than any other “group.”
    The police are killing people because they are trained to act like marxists, and trained that the enemy is the citizen they are sworn to protect. No one ever seems to notice this and falls into the black-vs-white trap, which is the goal in the first place, divide, divide, divide, into smaller and smaller competing factions.

  8. It’s about time companies start suing these liberal student associations and colleges/administration for slandering/Libel against anyone they don’t agree with. All these companies, including Chick-filet offer nothing but good quality food and service. Hopefully they’ll get money from the school and each individual named in the suit

  9. BSU doesn’t deserve my tax $ because I’m an American citizen who believes in constitutional rights, freedoms and laws – and I don’t hate others. Obviously, this institution has lost its way. With BSU’s new “woke” agenda, I suggest BSU find new “woke” funding.

  10. Include in the suit, Administrators, the Student body and BSU. They royally screwed this coffee company.

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