Movements of positive social change on campus

Few other dining services have put up as much resistance to change as UDS has.

It is ironic that Oriana Ramirez-Nino wrote an April 7 letter to the Daily to criticize those working to improve the lives of humans and animals by pushing for 100 percent Fair Trade coffee and Certified Humane cage-free eggs, while the majority on campus do absolutely nothing in terms of creating positive change. It may be more productive for her to mobilize inactive students instead of denunciating the few people that have picked causes to fight for.

Fair Trade coffee and cage-free eggs are not just “miniscule things” for the tens of thousands of struggling human laborers and the hundreds of millions of suffering and confined hens. The coffee workers targeted are at the whim of an unsympathetic international market, unable to even make a living wage as they become trapped in a cycle of poverty. Many resort to production methods that threaten their surrounding communities and ecosystems rather than more sustainable traditional methods. Life for a battery-caged hen is an inescapable misery that would warrant felony animal cruelty charges if the same confinement was used on dogs or cats. These social and intelligent birds are forced to be nothing more than egg-laying machines. Because both of these injustices are so distant from our point of reference – occurring in central and South America and on remote mega-factory farms – it is easy to neglect their plight. Our taste for cheap coffee and battery-cage eggs creates the demand that drives negligent industries.

Few other university dining services have put up as much resistance to these simple and relatively inexpensive requests. University Dining Services, however, continues to play public relations games and take advantage of the lack of education that students have about the realities affecting labor conditions for coffee workers and the reprehensible conditions that egg-laying hens must endure. Many schools are taking the lead by making the small changes that would reduce so much unnecessary suffering and commit to social responsibility. Aramark can use its misinformation and stall tactics in the short term, but their contract with UDS may be in jeopardy as a result in the long term. Let’s take the lead of schools like Carleton, which carries exclusively Fair Trade coffee and University of Wisconsin at Madison which has just announced its switch to cage-free eggs.

Alice Battey is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]