DUSP students call for boycott of campus dining provider

Aramark, which services prisons nation-wide, has been accused of exploiting prisoners

MIT No Aramark, an MIT campaign launched by students in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, started circulating a petition to the MIT community last week calling on MIT to join the national movement to boycott campus food provider Aramark. According to the petition, Aramark has generated “numerous human rights complaints” from the prisons it serves.

Aramark has been accused of being responsible for “inadequate, rotten, or maggot-infested food, food shortages, exploitative labor practices, sexual harassment and drug trafficking.”

Specifically, the petition, which had garnered over 680 signatures at the time of publication, calls on Suzy Nelson, the vice president of student life, to “deny Aramark the opportunity to bid, and firmly refuse any future contract on campus” when MIT Dining considers new dining providers this summer.

Aramark has the second-largest dining contract on campus, and services Steam Cafe, Bosworth, and Cafe Four, among other vendors. The company is listed by MIT’s office of the vice president of finance as a “preferred” caterer, and has provided catering services to MIT for over 30 years.

The leader of the national Aramark boycott is the The Ordinary People’s Society. The Free Alabama Movement incited a national prison strike last year in protest of Aramark services.

Nelson and Peter Cummings, executive director for administration for DSL, recently met with the students behind the petition to discuss their “concerns related to Aramark,” Matthew Bauer, director of communications for DSL, wrote in an email to The Tech. Nelson and Cummings encouraged students to participate in the process of choosing the next food and dining partner by drafting questions for prospective respondents to answer during the request for proposal.

Bauer wrote that “those answers will be an integral part of the discussions,” but made no promises regarding Aramark. The search for a new dining provider will start in May and will take over a year. A new vendor is projected to be selected by fall 2018.