Tink restricts students distributing food

Policy change prevents organizations, individuals from serving food within University Center

Yugan Sakthi, Staff Reporter

The Tinkham Veale University Center (TVUC) recently updated its food distribution policy, severely limiting student groups hoping to fundraise through means of tabling. The policy change, as TVUC management explained, was catalyzed by health concerns.

According to TVUC Executive Director Randy Barnes, “[TVUC] does not permit distribution of food of any kind in the facility by any group, organization, individual that is not part of a booked and scheduled event utilizing approved catering or an operation of the University’s food service provider such as a food court server or restaurant.”

The new changes go on to state, “All food preparation and distribution in [TVUC] must be provided by Bon Appetit catering, with the exception of the Student Organization Center, which must use a university-approved caterer.”

It specifically mentions “tabling and tabling events.”

Many student organizations around campus, including cultural organizations and Greek Life, rely on tabling, selling food and baked goods to raise money in TVUC because of the number of students who travel through the building every day. With the new rule, students complain that fundraising for their organizations is much more difficult.

One of those complaints concerns the diminished variety of food that students will be exposed to. Cultural organizations often rely on food to connect in new ways with the student body, often tabling with cuisines that many students have never experienced.

Lauren Lew, a fourth-year student, said, “It’s hard for a large company like Bon Appetit to facilitate cultural foods well. Students don’t get properly represented with cultural foods; it’s almost counterintuitive.”

Also affected by the new policy are external organizations that are connected to Case Western Reserve University through student groups—philanthropic ones, for example, that student organizations donate to, or local businesses and restaurants that can have their food catered on campus.

Lew said, “That’s what makes community of [CWRU] so great is getting our name out there with small business.”

Greek Life, which relies on tabling for promotion, recruitment and philanthropy, will have to find new avenues of fundraising as well.

Third-year student Justin Marks said, “Many organizations like to give donuts, or coffee or candy when tabling and cannot. [The] general visibility of Greek Life is damaged overall.”

The primary cause for the policy change concerns student health.

According to Barnes, “The change was made as a response to a significant increase in CWRU students reporting food allergies over the last four years, incidents at other institutions and universities, and concern about the risks to our students from allergic reactions.”

A lack of publicity and information about the revisions may have contributed to the policy’s controversial status around campus, as students have little idea about why the policy was changed and so strictly enforced.

“We recognize and regret that we were unable to engage the campus community regarding this policy in advance, and appreciate that students are unhappy about the policy and our communication of it,” Barnes said. “We now are engaging with the Undergraduate Student Government and other student organizations to hear members’ input and recommendations regarding the policy.”

For now, students are encouraged to use the Thwing Center for food distribution and to bring up issues they have with TVUC management.