Common Grounds: An Example of Pure Ignorance

An off-brand coffee shop with a trendy vibe, free printing and more options to satisfy your caffeine cravings -- what could go wrong?

Well, apparently, a lot.

Common Grounds, a new coffee shop located on Cecil and 16th Street, came to North Philadelphia mid-September, and has made quite the debacle on and off campus. The new coffee shop seemed promising -- drinks that differ from the normal Saxby’s, two floors of seating and accents of glowing pink.

The problem? Oh, that would be the glowing pink sign that glorifies and lessens the severity of substance abuse, reading “Up All Night on Adderall.”

Yeah, you read that right.

Recently, Common Grounds has announced that they will be replacing the sign with something like “Up All Night on Coffee,” which makes more sense considering they are a coffee shop. After numerous comments on the coffee shop’s ignorance and insensitivity, it’s important that they are making changes, but the damage has already been done.

One of the first people to bring attention to the sign’s absurdity was Temple University student Pearl Joslyn, who tweeted, “normalizing and glorifying prescription drug abuse on college campuses is not cute. It is not art. It is not acceptable. This should not be a debate. Shame on Common Grounds,” on Oct. 17th

After that, complaints and unease poured in. Temple University senior Sarah Madaus was among many that voiced her concerns on the glorifying nature of the sign, saying that “the sign rubbed me the wrong way…”

“...Whether intentional or not, it glorifies substance use/abuse. It’s literally glowing,” Madaus said. “I thought that the attempt at targeting Temple students was 1) an obvious ploy for Instagram clout, and 2) forced and insensitive at best.”

Temple University professor Dr. Jill Bauer-Reese discovered the sign through social media, and at first thought that it was an erasable chalkboard sign -- not a permanent fixture on their wall that they paid for.

Bauer-Reese sees many reasons as to why the sign is immensely problematic.

“...It glorifies substance use on a campus where two students died of overdoses last year and Amphetamine use runs rampid,” Bauer-Reese said. “I also think that it minimizes the importance of Adderall for people who need to take it as a medication for ADHD.”

Bauer-Reese also sees another glaring problem with Common Grounds’ tactics -- a problem that one may overlook.

“And then finally, I think one problem people aren’t talking about as much is [that] it’s calling attention to disparities in racial and class drug arrests and other low-level arrests in the community,” Bauer-Reese said.

Bauer-Reese brings up the point that our long-time North Philadelphia neighbors are more likely to get arrested by Temple’s police force for “low-level drug and alcohol related offenses than a student.”

Temple’s drug policies affect our neighbors in a more severe way than they do us -- which is a problem in itself -- and Common Grounds’ effort to make the idea of drug abuse seem “trendy” is considerably ignorant of this issue.

Temple students, Temple faculty and long-time North Philadelphia residents have many reasons to be upset about this immense lapse of judgement on Common Grounds’ part. In a now-deleted Instagram post of their sign, numerous IG accounts commented on the sheer ignorance of the shop’s chosen decor, to which Common Grounds replied extremely unprofessionally.

“I’m disappointed in their response on social media to some people’s concerns,” Bauer-Reese said. “I think they could issue an apology to people who were offended -- and these are people who posted, commented, on their Instagram feed -- people who have lost family members to overdose [and] other people who actually take Adderall for ADHD.”

Luckily, Common Grounds recently announced that they have fired the individual in charge of their Instagram account, which is one small, but good, step towards earning back the respect of Temple students and long-time North Philadelphia residents.

With all drama in the past, students and residents can look forward to the improvements that Common Grounds will hopefully be implementing. But for now, we’ll stick to Saxby’s.