I am not a fan of Aramark. I don’t like their food, I don’t like how they bilk undergraduates, and I don’t like how they treat their staff. However, I must take issue with Nathan Wilmers’s position in his op-ed piece (“Off the Aramark,” 10/7/08), not for his goals, but for his tactics, which are, to say the least, outdated.
In 1969, rallies and marches were how students got their voices heard. They worked (sometimes, anyway) because the universities were afraid that their radical students might, say, take over the administration building. That era is over. Today’s Aramark worker rallies, with their megaphones, banners, and socialist overtones, accomplish nothing because they have no backbone. Petitions about moderately legitimate concerns, like this one, are ignored because of the proliferation of petitions on groundless complaints, such as the Great Kick Coke Battle of 2007 (which featured an oddly similar cast of student leaders to the current Aramark issue). Basically, what worked 40 years ago is now singularly ineffective.
So how do we grow back our teeth? Instead of waving banners and screaming into megaphones outside Bartlett, we should be smart. Consider how interest groups maintain influence in Washington. They lobby the right people in a way that is informative and not obnoxious, and they find ways to be financially relevant to issues of concern. Student groups can do these things, but it’s going to require more thinking, more work, more discretion, and less shouting.
Alexander G. Tievsky
Class of 2010