Tomato ban improves lives

Dylan Suher | Op-Ed Submission

Another issue of Student Life and another expression of overheated outrage at the recent decisions made by Bon Appétit to conduct business in an ethical manner. Invariably, these arguments are all alike, little more than childish temper tantrums veiled in the high rhetoric of right and privileges. Perhaps it is my own ignorance, but I am unaware of the basic constitutional right that entails that students simply must be able to buy tomatoes from their university vendor. I find it ironic, however, that such a right would deprive me of my own right to demand that the university of which I am a student work for the greater good of mankind.

I will only comment briefly on Mr. Randy Brachman’s column, which is so ill-informed and confused that it does not merit serious engagement. I suggest that if Mr. Brachman actually wants to understand the dispute, rather than merely comment on it, he ought to read the same newspaper that has the unfortunate habit of publishing him. As for Mr. Andrew Gottlieb, I feel that I cannot comment on his column unless I have a better sense of what his own situation is. Perhaps he has been fitted with one of those invisible-fence dog collars and cannot leave the 40 for fear he will be shocked. If not, he is perfectly free to go off campus and buy the tomatoes he seems to so desperately need—admittedly an inconvenience, but one that pales in comparison to the inconveniences suffered by the workers of The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, who only have the tremendously inconvenient choice of working under awful conditions or taking the risk that their families might starve. While Mr. Gottlieb may or may not be restricted to the 40, it is a fact that members of the union have been literally chained up by their employers.

While I respect Dennis Sweeney’s call for civility in this discussion, it is all too easy for that civility to represent a cavalier attitude toward this issue. The tomato ban concerns the lives and rights of real people; it is not a parlor game or a mental exercise that pits abstract rights against personal preference. And as such, if I must endure a minor inconvenience to support the right of every human being to earn an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, I will willingly—no, proudly—endure it.

Dylan is a senior in Arts & Sciences. He can be reached via e-mail at dmsuher@wustl.edu.

  • Andrew Gottlieb

    First of all, the main point of my article is that students should have the freedom to choose (even at on campus dining) what they eat and not have thier choices dictated to them. I do not even like to tomatoes, and I would not buy them knowing the harm they cause to the workers who produce them, but I still think it I should have the RIGHT to buy said tomatoes if I so desired.

    As to your claim about the “invisible-fence dog collars”, that seems to me to be an apt description of what the University does to freshmen by FORCING them to buy a meal plan that includes essentially enough points to buy every meal on campus. Students who do not have extra money to burn on off campus dining are essentially forced to eat whatever bon apetit tells them. While I realize not being able to eat tomatoes is NOT the end of the world, it is a step down a slippery slope.

    Try to at least understand someone’s article before you decide to tear it apart.

  • Philip Christofanelli

    You’ve made no argument here. You just complained about other people making an argument, which is hardly convincing.