I'm sorry, as soon as I realized that some people might be too young to know about the Wendy's commercial, I had to go find it for you:
Thanks for bearing with me. It's important that pop-culture be passed on to future generations.
"Where's the beef?" is a question students at Bowdoin College in Maine were asking recently when the college decided to implement "Meatless Monday" in its on-campus dining establishments. A number of students (I couldn't find anything indicating a specific number) were outraged, and protested the lack of animal flesh in the dining hall, including holding a beefy barbecue right outside the premises. Apparently, they resent having their dietary choices controlled by the dictatorial college dining services. Okay, truthfully, it was the administration as a whole, but the image of dining service dictators made me smile a little. In any case, you can more informed takes on it here and here.
My reactions to this:
Initially, I thought something like, "Well, that's great that they've overcome apathy enough to protest something, but really? Meatless Monday?" Then, I thought they were somewhat justified. What right does the college have to impose its food values on their students? It is certainly appropriate for the school to encourage Meatless Monday the same way it might encourage wearing pink for Breast Cancer Awareness, but to essentially force them into it? Even if there are off-campus dining options nearby, students with a dining plan shouldn't have to pay again for a meal they want to eat.
But then, I realize that not just college students, but anyone who works anywhere or goes anywhere is subject to complying with or at least participating in the organization's values system. Usually, no one cares until it effects something that you care about. For example, our college's dining services uses almost exclusively plates and cups made from recycled materials, and is beginning to incorporate locally produced food when its feasible. I think it's awesome, and so do others, but I'm sure there's a lot of folks who are quite indifferent. No one is saying, "Darnit, I really wanted to eat my meal off of styrofoam today!" And even if people think that climate change and all this environmental stuff is a bunch of hooey and a waste, they still don't really care. But the College is imposing its environmental values on these students. Organizations impose their values with everything they do.
In his or her comment on the Sierra Club Blog, Cris said it much more succinctly:
Is it up to the students to select the menu items on any other day? Why would they need to approve a mac & cheese dinner on Monday (or whatever they have) any more than they need to approve having hotdogs on Thursdays or not having fried chicken on Wednesdays or orange juice for breakfast, or not having cherry pie on Tuesdays!Excellent point! Then, when I was in college, on almost any given day, I could protest that I didn't have the right to eat tater tots with chili and cheese, one of my dining hall guilty pleasures. And there was always at least one day a week when there was no strawberry cream cake, oh, I can still taste the sweet berries, moist cake and rich filling, kissed with fluffy whipped cream. Wasn't it my right to eat that cake any day I wanted to? Should I have protested by...uh, I guess eating strawberry cake right outside the dining hall?
IUP alum, I know you forgot about that cake until just now, and your mouth is watering, too!
So, I'm not sure what I think about this. I wonder if it would ever fly where I work now. What do y'all think?