One of the best parts of campus life is the seemingly endless opportunities for either free food or cheap baked goods.
But over the past few weeks, the buzz around campus has been that Bon Appetit Management Company barred this key pastime in the Tinkham Veale University Center. This inaccurate notion does not get at the real issue of a lack of communication from the administration to its students.
Given the importance of organization-run bake sales and candy giveaways, the University has demonstrated immense oversight in making this change without more discussion. From the time they first get on campus, Case Western Reserve University students are immersed in an environment rich with student organizations. As a result of the never-ending competition for new members, the vast majority of these groups will attempt to attract students with candy, Mitchell’s ice cream or other sweet treats. On top of recruitment, many organizations will use bake sales to raise money for their chosen charity. It’s become routine to see these tables set up on the Case Quad, adjacent to the Binary Walkway or out in front of Kelvin Smith Library.
The Tinkham Veale University Center (TVUC) was perhaps where these types of events saw the most traffic, which is what makes any change to the system so impactful. As a response to numerous students reporting food allergies, TVUC is now barring student organizations from distributing food that is not prepared or provided by Bon Appetit. In its provision, it specifically names “tabling and tabling events.”
What is most frustrating regarding the decision is that they were reactive rather than proactive. When news of the change broke, it caught everyone by surprise, indicating an extreme breakdown in communication. Considering the decision was supposedly based on students, it feels as though that the general student body was not adequately consulted.
Furthermore, no formal announcement was made before the changes were actually put in place, meaning that most student organizations were blindsided ahead of their planned events. The subsequent criticisms that were directed at Bon Appetit only emerged because of how suddenly the rule was implemented, which only served to exacerbate the irritation and confusion regarding the change.
In terms of actual effects on the community, adding this layer of complexity to food-based events inhibits the ability of campus organizations to promote themselves. Having a table in TVUC will be much less appealing now that organizations will usually need to make catering arrangements to have food. The chilliness of the winter months will only add to the dilemma, with one of the most popular indoor locations now off limits for frequently-occurring bake sales.
It is, on paper, a very minor change to the rules of the Tink. But it represents another decision that shows a lack of understanding of both the campus culture and its needs. If food on campus is to become a truly positive point, then undoing this policy will be an essential first step.