Changes require some action

Its time for those concerned to start taking a genuine interest in the reform of University Dining Services.

I am forced to speak on behalf of myself and any other student genuinely interested in the reform of University Dining Services. Sam Ero-Phillipsí guest column is riddled with inaccuracies.

Letís start with the reasoning behind his claim that the cage-free eggs debate was unfair. He claimed UDS picked the person who ran the meeting. I was asked to be the independent moderator of the debate by a member of the advisory board. I was chosen for two reasons: I have been one of the most, if not the most, vocal activists on behalf of students toward UDS, serving on the UDS Advisory Board during its first year, and because I moderate debates on a weekly basis as the chairman of the student governmentís legislative body.

He claimed UDS set the agenda; this is not true. I was given a general agenda template and agreed with its setup. He claims they decided who was allowed to speak when it is the moderatorís job to decide who speaks. The debate was conducted in the normal manner: One person speaks on one side, and another speaks on the other side. It was then opened to questions. I made the decision to call on people in the order their hands were raised. The exceptions to this were if the person already had asked a question ó to allow the largest variety of people to ask questions ó or if they were a member of the board (allowing them to ask as many questions as they had in order to help aid their decision).

As to ìdecided who qualified as members of the board,” members of the board are the same members who normally are considered members. Like every other ill-advised movement, trying to get on a committee at the last minute for the sole purpose of influencing a vote is not a good strategy. In my opinion, it is not an honorable one, either. Ero-Phillips never has been a member of the UDS Advisory Board; he petitioned to become a member for the sole purpose of being able to vote on this issue and probably will not be in attendance at any future meetings. This is not the actions of someone truly interested in the well-being of students or of UDS reform. One should serve the cause for all students, not just those in agreement with his own views.

He stated that UDS must stop stalling because of the 5-2 vote of the UDS Advisory Board. What he fails to see is that this decision would directly effect more than 6,000 residence-hall students who have not had their say. Any increase in cost would be directly translated into rate increase for all students required to buy a meal plan. Not only does this have an aura of ìtaxation without representation,” but just because Compassionate Action for Animals has decided in one view does not mean the majority of residence-hall students feel the same way. Because any increase caused by the switch would be applied directly to these students, they should be able to have the final say on which eggs are used in their dining centers instead of banking on a decision made by seven individuals who have little or no connection to required meal plans.

 Two thousand signatures in favor of cage-free eggs is a misleading statement. The petition said nothing about fee increases, just the one-side issue of cage-free eggs vs. caged eggs. And it doesnít take much persuasion to convince the average person that no one looks at the things they are asked to sign. Many sign just to get rid of the interruption.

UDS didnít avoid any vote in the undergraduate association. Donny Mansfield, Compassionate Action for Animals member and author of the resolution, asked me to remove the position statement from the agenda so that the residence-hall students, including the Residence Hall Association, could have the opportunity to speak about it first. There was no political move on anyoneís part; you cannot imply as such.

Lastly, UDS has responded this way to student input for years. On subjects ranging from the monopolylike policy of requiring residence-hall students to buy meal plans to extending the hours of operation in Coffman Union (it used to close at 2:30 p.m., it is now open until 6:30 p.m. with pizza available until 10:30 p.m., thanks to the work of the Twin Cities Student Unions Board of Governors). For Ero-Phillips to just now realize this should be a clear indication of his work ó or lack thereof ó on improving UDS.

  Kevin Wendt is the speaker of the Minnesota Student Association Forum. Please send comments to [email protected]