OPINION | Protest Aramark for the right reasons

Aramark Corporation caters not just to Butler University, but also to a vast network of other universities, sports stadiums and prisons.

Butler’s students need to do their homework on this company and consider advocating for a change in its policies.

According to Fortune Magazine’s website, the company was recognized as “One of the World’s Most Ethical Companies” by the publication in 2012.

To suggest a protest or boycott against this well-awarded, lauded company might seem a little strange at first.

It might also be shocking to know that Aramark has a shaky record with its contracts.

In 2002, The St. Petersburg Times documented hundreds of food-related incidents in prisons where Aramark provided food for inmates.

Florida officers said they feared the low quality of food would cause riots.

In 2008, The Palm Beach Post reported the state fined Aramark more than $250,000 for contract violations in that year alone, including misrepresenting what kind of food the company fed inmates.

In 2011, the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky reported that the state attorney general had been asked to investigate Aramark’s work in prisons.

One prisoner reportedly found a dead mouse in his food.

A state representative alleges the company refused to disclose its cost-related records—and therefore, how much of the $12 million in contract money it was pocketing on the side.

This past August, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported the University of Central Arkansas faced a shuffling of leadership when Aramark offered $700,000 to renovate the school president’s home.

In exchange for this renovation,  Aramark’s contract would be renewed there.

The former University of Central Arkansas president was asked to resign and faces charges for withholding this information and “urging” a vice president to destroy a letter that implicates Aramark in the mutual exchange.

The employees on Butler’s campus are not responsible for the unsavory behavior displayed by this company, nor are the administrators at the university culpable for what’s happened.

The actual individuals on campus have not done anything related to the issues listed above.

However, students have a unique opportunity to speak out against these problems.

If the above track record bothers students, they can make a statement through consciousness-raising, boycott and protest.

This is a real cause affecting the entire Butler community.

The student body can and should demand better standards from Aramark going forward.

Butler students should also take the time to research what outside affiliations their educational institution makes.

None of these relationships are made in a vacuum.

Even though any given service on campus probably doesn’t have negative affects here and now, students need to be wary of the wider consequences abroad.


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