A student demonstration that started as a forum post from a disgruntled student erupted unexpectedly into a protest of the Aramark’s food services at Drew at midnight on February 5th. Alumni commiserated with current students through Facebook and Twitter, protesters marched around campus, and speeches and chants called for changes from the current food service provider Aramark.
“It’s about time Drew had their voices heard on campus… We just want Aramark to listen to us.” Andrew Barnes (’15) said. Standing on a table at the base of the Commons and speaking to the crowd of protesters, Barnes emerged as the unofficial spokesperson of the protest.
Students have long complained about the food service offered at Drew University. This was shown with the sharing of Drew’s recent position as the 9th worst college food according to the Princeton Review on student’s Facebook walls. Outrage hit the tipping point when Timothy Watkins (’15) posted on the Drew Community Forums last Sunday.
“Earlier tonight at the Commons, I was accosted by a woman who worked for the cafeteria and several Public Safety officers for ‘intended theft’— I had put some food in a few small Ziploc containers. The PS officers went on to chastise me, saying that the rules regarding food transportation were ‘very clear’ and that I might as well ‘just obey them’.” Watkins posted.
By Tuesday afternoon, Facebook profiles of Drew students were filled with talk of a protest. It was originally intended as a “sit-in”, but then changed to a public protest, aimed at changing the standards of the food eaten at Drew.
At midnight, students gathered at the main path in front of HERB circle. Some, like Elissa Erwin (’15) heard the chanting and joined in. “I heard it from my room and I was curious.” she said.
What started as a group of ten to fifteen students quickly grew into a crowd upwards of 60 to 70 people. Within ten minutes, the crowd was marching around the Commons building, chanting “What do we want? Good Food! When do we want it? Now!!!”. The crowd made their way into the Commons concourse, where a discussion of Drewids’ grievances with Aramark and the food service at Drew was held.
Concerns discussed included the short services hours, unhealthy or under-cooked food, dirty dishes and silverware and an overall distaste for the food served and the variety provided.
Watching over the event was public safety officer Corporal Jesse Traynor, who did not interfere with the protest. He was cooperative, friendly, and stayed behind after the protest ended to discuss with students their concerns.
Before leaving the Commons, students agreed to meet up again today at noon. As a symbol of their anger, many of them are planning to bring Tupperware containers, similar to the one Watkins used. They plan to bring home as much food as they can fit in the Tupperware containers in protest. Some students, who said they don’t have Tupperware, are planning to bring sandwich baggies and other sorts of food carrying methods.
Melanie Popp (’14) summed up the spirit of the movement best when she said “We’re rated one of the worst school foods in the country and that makes me ashamed of my school… and I would like to be proud of the service at Drew.”