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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Letters to the Editor:

Published: November 7, 2008
Section: Opinions

To the Editor:

Over the past few years, Brandeis University’s Dining Services has made noteworthy improvements: from bio-degradable trash liners, to increased vegetarian and vegan options, to the commitment to working with students on campus to create change. As Michael Newmark’s letter to the Editor (Oct. 24 in The Hoot) stated, many of the changes have been made through working with students and administrators alike.

The Coalition for Food Services Reform aims to bring issues to light and open a dialogue with Dining Services and the administration to reform Dining Services on campus. Thus far, the Coalition has been misrepresented and misunderstood to be a group attacking Dining Services.

This is simply untrue. The Coalition only exists to represent the desires of students on campus regarding sustainability, labor, and financial issues. For this reason, the Coalition is co-sponsoring an open forum with the Student Union on Monday, November 10 at 8pm in Pearlman Lounge to ensure that the all students, not just special interests, are represented in the Coalition’s Recommendations to Dining Services.

The recommendations compiled by the Coalition represent the input of individual students along with input from several student organizations. After compiling a list of student grievances and recommendations, Coalition extensively researched the policies of comparable universities.

After finding out that Brandeis is far behind some universities such as Yale and Brown, and below the level of other universities such as Williams College and Mount Holyoke in terms of sustainability, the list of recommendations was adjusted to reflect this trend in higher education. Dining Services is a formative part of any university community, and the Coalition seeks to ensure that Dining Services at Brandeis reflect the values of the community.

The Coalition does not mean to undermine or replace the Student Union’s Dining Services Committee in any way. Contrarily, the Coalition is working closely with the committee to represent students’ interests and opinions. The difference between the two groups lies in the group’s ultimate goals.

The Coalition wishes to reform Dining Services’ general policies (such as purchasing guidelines) while the Dining Services Committee will continually address student requests on the everyday function of Dining Services (such as hours of operation). The Coalition and the Committee want to ensure that students can rely on Dining Services to provide goods and services in the most socially and environmentally responsible way possible.

By listening to the recommendations of the Brandeis community, Dining Services will make significant steps towards being an even more sustainable, student-oriented, community-building feature of campus life. We recognize that some of the recommendations we are making are currently being addressed.

In this case, we have left the grievance in the list in order to ensure that the list is comprehensive as well as to bring attention to the need for increased communication between students and Dining Services. Dining Services is already doing great things, but they do not mean anything if the students are unaware.

This is the ultimate wish of the Coalition: honest communication between Dining Services and the rest of the Brandeis community. We are not demanding that the University “go green” nor make unreasonable changes, but rather requesting Dining Services adhere to a set of principles valued by the whole community when making decisions.

In this vein, I encourage every member of the Brandeis community to read and evaluate the list of recommendations available at http://brandeisdiningservicesre

– Danielle Hollenbeck-Pringle ‘10

Coalition Steering Committee Chair