Ryan Chartrand

When in the course of student events, an egregious injustice is manifested and a protest is made, a decent respect to the opinions of humankind requires an explanation of the causes impelling said protest. This letter serves as a long overdue grievance against the Cal Poly Campus Dining Corp. It is a reasoned grievance brought by one voice amongst thousands of victims past and present, and should not be disregarded contemptuously as the words written here constitute a deafening chorus of the majority of campus residents contracted into the dinning plan.

A brief reflection reveals that the Corporation did not selflessly shoulder this responsibility of feeding us all; it demanded it along with full advance payment. Assuredly, other food industries would happily cater to Cal Poly students’ every wish. These industries are simply forbidden from doing so.

In the free market, a good must be offered and found satisfactory before the stipendiary may claim his stipend. In stark contrast, what we are witnessing here is the inevitable debacle of a closed market system. All residents are compelled to buy the Corporation’s substandard services in order to live on campus. An absence of consumer choice has led to an absence of incentive and accountability. With such an arrangement, only naivet‚ could inspire the expectation of something more than the shoddy services.

The root problem lies with the Corporation’s unaccountability to its customers. Letters like this one can be written, but purposeful, punitive action (e.g., students indicating their disapproval by choosing another food supplier) is prohibited. The Corporation has already stuffed its pockets with our money. What has this resulted in?

I. A limited food selection either inherently bland or rendered bland because it is consumed without respite.

II. Prices unrepresentative of market value. Students are sulkily aware that Odwalla drinks are far from approaching $4 in the real market.

III. Sudden and inexplicable price hikes every quarter. Was the salad crop particularly gimpy this quarter? Was a tragically large portion of the turkeys ravaged by disease and foxes? Or did the Corporation gleefully realize there was nothing we could do but squirm under the screw of rising prices?

IV. The most serious infraction, next to which the preceding grievances amount to a mere quibble, is the Corporation’s exploitation of residents via “meals.” Consider this: meals are assigned ascending values, in the order of breakfast, lunch and dinner. This practice is despicable. Simply because people commonly eat less for breakfast, the Corporation withdraws the same amount from the students’ accounts whilst returning substantially less. Even worse, meals completely expire at the end of each week. Leaving for the weekend? Or sick of campus food? That equals less work for the Corporation and the same profit.

Such painless prosperity! Hard-earned money that we paid for actual meals vanishes without apology at the end of each week. Imagine the same abuses in any other setting. “Intolerable” is the apt description there as well as here.

A related grievance is the Corporation’s refusal to refund unspent Plus Dollars at the end of the year. Any remaining balance is deposited immediately in the coffers of the Corporation at the end of the year.

Defensively striving for legal justification, the Corporation will point to the contract that about 3,600 residents signed before being allowed to live on campus. Contracts are malleable. When a contract flies outrageously against all notions of fairness, change it. The Corporation’s contract violates even the most brutish ethical standards, and the cries for sweeping revisions must not go unheeded.

In some situations, being able to overlook a wrong can be admirable. This is not such a time. Why delude ourselves with optimistic thoughts? Even in the theoretical realm, it is hard to convince oneself that any industry will suffer some miraculous, moral impetus to provide passable goods, nay, even any goods at all, in the event that it has already secured the customer’s purse. The arrangement is backwards and the result is quite literally distasteful to campus dwellers. The Corporation first demanded our money and then offered its mediocre services. Leaving much unsaid and anticipating the need to repulse the Corporation’s vindicatory contention, I confess that the whole of my malnourished, debilitated corpus delicti protests the continuance of this thankless chore.

The two greatest revolutions in history have been invoked. A crucial catalyst of change in those tremulous times was action. Your complaints have been articulated. It is now your prerogative to protest. You know your parents love hearing from you. As the financial backers of the Corporation, they have particularly heavy clout and are the best agents of change aside from your own unified voice of protest. Want change? Cut out this article and send it to them. Your parents are lawyers? Splendid. Not surprisingly, they’ll be upset to realize that they’re supporting such brazen misconduct. Next, a letter to the mayor, the Governator, the National Guard, etc. Or use e-mail. This commentary is also at mustangdaily.com.

Jeremy Hicks
Political science junior

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