Pacific University talks the talk about sustainability, but it is time that we walk the walk. Two of Pacific University’s top priorities stated in its Mission Statement are community and sustainability. Both of which I believe are lacking on campus.
Currently Pacific is striving for the gold standard in sustainability though this is not feasible with the current dining services and the amount of waste produced. Aramark the corporation that runs Pacific’s dining services, neither creates nor nourishes community or sustainability. Instead, it results in the separation between the freshman and sophomore classes and junior and senior classes. This is because older students who have on-campus kitchens or live off campus are frustrated with the low quality and high prices of food in the RFOC and Bistro, which does not encourage them to use this space.
To create the community that Pacific wants, there needs to be a space for older students to help mentor younger students. This must be the University Center because it is the only place on campus that everyone uses. Solving this problem will help the retention problem and make the daily life of a Pacific student more enjoyable.
For instance, Aramark is owned by Halliburton. This is the same company that was once run by ex-vice president Dick Cheney who was then the CEO and chairman. Halliburton is a very diverse company that has profited from every U.S. war and oil well drilled since 1990 and currently has a dining service contract with the military. Do you feel Pacific should use the same dining services as the military and let alone one that had a net income of $3 billion in 2011?
To nourish a sustainable community, the changing of some light bulbs and the addition of the new Center for Sustainable Society are not going to cause the dramatic change our campus and community need. Don’t get me wrong, I think that the new center will offer some great improvements to campus, providing information and motivating students. We can not stop there, we must look into removing Aramark as our dining services providers and encouraging Pacific University to open our own dining services similar to an executive kitchen in a hotel or casino.
Aramark has repeatedly shown every freshman class since I have been at Pacific that their food is awful and repetitive. Some of the rules of having Aramark are absurd; for instance all catering needs to be either done or approved by Aramark before brought on campus. Instead of closing of our campus, we should be broadening our horizons, like having a farmers market on campus with produce from B Street sold at a subsidised rate to feed our students healthy food as well as create revenue for B Street. The use of B Street as a valuable resource of local organic produce needs to be utilized by the Pacific community and currently Aramark is not doing that.
Currently, Aramark uses a mixture of local and national sources of food. Despite the vocal displeasure by some students for the services rendered, there is no accountability for change or better nourishment by Aramark. I noticed when I worked in the RFOC my freshman year that most of the food from Sysco (a national food distributor) went to the students and the locally-grown food went to alumni and catering events. If Pacific decides to run our dining services, then we can build relationships with the large local farms within 50-100 miles of campus and build a reputation as a progressive school and community. Pacific needs to take the step to acknowledge the need for better food choices on campus and that starts with the students voicing their displeasure. Go to food forums and talk to your friends and neighbors, ask them the hard questions.