Students question possible dining change

By Morgan Eads| @KyKernel

meads@kykernel.com

The UK student organization United Students Against Sweatshops, following a successful campaign to get UK to affiliate with the Workers Right Consortium, is hosting an event to bring awareness to the possible outsourcing of UK’s dining services.

UK is evaluating possible options for the future of its dining services and has not yet committed to outsourcing or keeping the system as it is. The event, “Worker, Student, Farmer SPEAK OUT,” will take place Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the W.T. Library Young Auditorium and will feature speakers who would be personally affected if dining were outsourced.

At Wednesday’s event students, farmers and workers will give testimonials about why UK should not outsource dining services, and members of UK USAS will give a presentation outlining the process of outsourcing.

The university is gathering information on the benefits and downfalls of outsourcing its dining. With the renovations to UK residence halls, the university sees this as an ideal time to look into dining services, UK spokesman Jay Blanton said.

As some dining halls are attached to or positioned near existing residence halls, the upheaval of the dorms could call for dining changes.

Blanton would not theorize about the possible effects of outsourcing on student workers in dining services.  USAS believes collectively that the outsourcing of UK dining would greatly hurt the students and current employees on campus, USAS member and anthropology senior Alli Sehon said.

“Their goal is not to keep student workers, it’s to make a profit,” Sehon said.

International students would also be negatively affected, as they are only permitted to work campus jobs. If outsourced, the dining jobs would no longer be considered campus jobs and one of the biggest employers of students on campus would not be viable for many international students.

“It’s a huge community that is just being ousted, they had not even been considered, it was not even discussed,” Sehon said. “When you have overlooked an entire population, that’s a sign that they need to slow down and do their research.”

The current UK Dining Services partners with Kentucky Proud and uses products from local farmers as much as possible.

USAS is concerned that, if outsourced, this system that is beneficial both to local farmers and those eating at the university will be lost.

Robert Mock, UK’s vice president for student affairs, said previously that UK’s preference would be a vendor that would keep the tradition of using Kentucky Proud products.