Shred the Contract

President Sabah Randhawa & Director of University Residences Leonard Jones

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For the past six years, students at Western Washington University have eaten meals prepared and served by Aramark, a multi-billion dollar corporation that runs the dining programs of colleges and universities around the country. However, many students are unaware of the troubling track record this corporation holds. Aramark has deep ties to the prison-industrial complex, a history of mistreating student employees here at Western, and lacks transparency and accountability.

In 2021, Western's contract with Aramark ends; this opens up an opportunity for Western to stop contracting out our food system to corporations and to instead adopt a self-operated dining system. A self-operated dining system would mean running our dining service like any other department on campus; instead of having a third party like Aramark managing the dining halls, cafes, and stores on campus, WWU would instead directly hire dining management and staff which would allow for more transparency, accountability, and equity for WWU students and community members.

Add your name to the list of students, staff, and community members standing up against corporate food in pursuit of a truly just food system at WWU!

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The following are an incomplete list of our concerns with Aramark.

*Aramark profits deeply from the prison-industrial complex, as they run over 500 dining operations in prisons across the country. Under their watch, prisoners have been served food containing maggots and rocks and experienced sexual assault in the kitchens, among many other injustices. Given that prisons disproportionately incarcerate people of color in this country, we believe that divesting from Aramark means divesting from an institution that directly profits off of white supremacy.

*Many students working for Aramark here at Western have reported unjust working conditions as employees in the dining hall, including threatening a worker into showing up when they were severely ill and anti-unionization efforts by Aramark management.

*Aramark lacks transparency and accountability. Aramark uses a system called "kickbacks", which are essentially bribes between food service providers and big food corporations. Food corporations (for example, Tyson) make deals with food service providers (Aramark) to give huge discounts on their food. In exchange, food service providers promise to keep buying from that company. Because of the kickback system, food service providers prioritize buying from big food corporations. This means that students end being served cheap, unhealthy, and unsustainable food in dining halls.

Aramark also has almost total control over all catering operations on campus - which means that when students want to get catering from local businesses or prepare food themselves for on-campus events and gatherings, it is extremely difficult to do so.


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Petition by
Emma Smith
Bend, Oregon

To: President Sabah Randhawa & Director of University Residences Leonard Jones
From: [Your Name]

Dear President Randhawa and Director of University Residences Jones,

The mission statement of our school reads, "Western Washington University serves the people of the State of Washington, the nation, and the world by bringing together individuals of diverse backgrounds and perspectives in an inclusive, student-centered university that develops the potential of learners and the well-being of communities."

The sentiment of this mission is reflected in the work that students, staff, faculty, and administrators do each day to make Western a more equitable community for all. Yet when it comes to our dining program, the corporation which oversees and runs every dining hall and market on campus does not meet this mission statement in the least. Aramark has a long and well recorded track record of exploiting prisoners and workers around the country. They also have deep ties with corporations like Tyson, which itself has troubling practices of animal abuse, inhumane working conditions for farm workers and farmers alike, and environmental pollution. Students here at Western who have worked for Aramark have also reported unfair working conditions, including attempts by Aramark to prevent unionization. We strongly believe that continuing the relationship between WWU and Aramark goes against the best interest of our community and communities around the nation.

Western's contract with Aramark expires in 2021, opening up an opportunity to cut ties with any third party corporations and adopt a self-operated dining system. This will allow for an increase in transparency of where our food comes from, a student-centered approach to food, and overall a more just food system for everyone who eats at WWU. Many other schools around the country, from the University of Washington to UC Santa Cruz utilize self-operated dining systems. Why can't Western?

Thank you for your time and we look forward to starting this conversation with you.

Sincerely,
Student of WWU