SU blocks Dining Services Committee push for ‘personal freedom’ in food choice

| News Editor

In response to the elimination of mozzarella sticks, tater tots and crepes from the Bear’s Den menu, the Senate Dining Services Committee hopes to pass a resolution that will allow students further input before menu item changes are made.

At the Sept. 6 Senate session, The Dining Services Committee presented a resolution that recommended that Dining Services seek further student input in future decisions, but it did not pass. Senate will vote on a revised version of the resolution Tuesday.

Senators in favor of the initial resolution cited the large student response generated by a Sept. 3 post in the “Overhead at WashU” Facebook group. The post, which read “Connie has officially killed off mozz sticks, tater tots, and crepes. RIP delicious late night BD foods,” had garnered 199 reactions and 10 comments at press time.

Senators who disapproved of the resolution cited a lack of hard data, arguing that the Dining Services Committee should seek more student opinion before presenting a revised draft of the resolution. Junior Chris Hall, the chair of the Dining Services Committee, agreed that statistics would help his resolution’s case, noting that two senators are currently working on a survey, which could either go out before or after the next Senate session.

“I think hard data always helps,” Hall said. “That’s definitely something we’re working on.”

Still, other senators argued that the issue is more about personal freedom than about the elimination of menu items.

“If someone wants to eat healthy, they have that option, now more than ever. But if students want to have tater tots—and they’re basically the same as french fries, which you can have as many as you want of right now—but if they prefer tater tots, why shouldn’t we let them have that instead? It’s all about student freedom,” sophomore and Student Union senator Noah Silverman said at last Tuesday’s Senate session.

In order to comply with regulations set by Partnership For A Healthier America, an affiliate of first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign, Dining Services must limit the number of fried items at each food station, which is why tater tots and mozzarella sticks were removed from the menu. Some senators feel that Dining Services is taking positive steps towards encouraging healthy lifestyle habits by eliminating such foods.

“I think college is the most important time to develop healthy eating habits—what you’re going to do here, you’re going to do for the rest of your life. Maybe you can process these tater tots and mozz sticks and still look good now, but 20 years down the line, it’s going to be both really bad for you and affect your whole life. And I think [Directory of University Nutrition Connie Diekman] here is really looking out for students,” junior and SU senator Andrew Englund said at the Senate session last Tuesday.

Sophomore and SU senator Zakary Kadish said that he thinks there’s a balance between providing students with healthy options and allowing them to make their own decisions regarding which food items to purchase.

“I’m not saying that they should serve a 3,000-calorie quadruple burger with bacon between every single patty; I’m saying these are food items that we’ve grown accustomed to, that we cherish, and now they’re just saying ‘They’re gone,’” Kadish said.

Though Hall believes the response to the first draft of the resolution was primarily positive, he noted that senators disagreed on whether the resolution should extend past Dining Services.

“The general consensus was that this was something that had good bones to it, that it was something that could be a good resolution, but people wanted to make it bigger,” Hall said. “Some people wanted to bring other entities under this idea of responsibility to the student body and make sure that other entities would be responsible to student needs as well, and that’s something that we’re ironing out right now.”

While some senators argued that menu items are an inconsequential matter, others believe the issue touches on something bigger altogether—the extent of student involvement in Washington University decisions.

“This isn’t a dispute over food options, this is part of a greater fight over the role of students in administrative decisions and student input on things that impact our lives,” Kadish added.

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