Opinion

In defense of unprofessionalism

JOE STUBBS, Contributor

This article was written in response to a piece by Ari Jacobs’12 (“Students lack Professionalism at Food Service Presentations”) featured in last week’s Round Table. I was the student who asked the first question quoted in the article. I am sorry that Mr. Jacobs viewed my question as “lacking professionalism” and wanted to “rip his hair out” while it was being asked. While my “wrongdoings” may have been heinous (indeed, hurting the delicate feelings of a corporate executive must rank as one of the worst crimes ever committed), I was attempting to raise issues that probably would have been ignored otherwise. In fact, as a human being, I felt compelled to list the wrongdoings of Sodexo during the past few years.

I find it interesting that Mr. Jacobs, despite his moral outrage at students asking the corporations seeking to profit from us a few tough questions, has absolutely nothing to say about the egregious record of Sodexo and Aramark on both safety and labor rights. The only remark that even hinted at a respect for the concerns I raised—“It’s true; we would not like to work for a company known for human rights abuses”—is perfunctory at best and dismissive at worst. If Mr. Jacobs would in fact not like to work with such a company, perhaps he should do a little research into the “guests” he is so concerned about offending. If he did, he would find that both the corporations in question quite literally violate human rights regularly (specifically, articles 25 and 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, although their involvement in the prison industry, both private and public, probably makes them in violation of article 5 as well).
The manager abuse in London which Sodexo perpetrated is only one incident in an ongoing pattern of union-busting and poor treatment of workers in many different countries. Aramark has a similar record. Specific incidents are too many to enumerate here and deserve an article of their own. In light of this, it seems absurd that Mr. Jacobs would spend so much time castigating his fellow students instead of taking our perspective into consideration. Perhaps his moral compass is a little defective if he is outraged by my “inflammatory remarks” but not by Sodexo and Aramark’s poor treatment of workers and students around the world. Mr. Jacobs calls my intentions “disingenuous.” Nothing could be further from the truth. I meant to confront the representative of a major corporation hoping to receive some of my family’s hard-earned money about their dismal history of abusing their workers, and I did just that.
Rather than being used to bemoan the alleged “wrongdoings” of students who confronted Aramark and Sodexo, I hope that in the future the pages of the Round Table can host a real discussion about how Beloit College can avoid, as much as is possible, contributing to immoral practices like union busting, health and safety violations in the service of profit, and participation in the private prison industry. I did not, in fact, “openly accuse Sodexo of not caring about their employees,” but I will do so here. Sodexo does not care about their employees. Neither does Aramark. Perhaps the flyers “compromised the dignity” of the representatives of the companies (although I see no reason for these representatives to feel personally attacked due to my criticisms of the corporations they work for), but Sodexo and Aramark’s union-busting, food-poisoning, prison-profiting exploits compromise the dignity of the entire human race.
I am content to remain thoroughly “unprofessional” and I will continue to address “inflammatory” questions to the representatives of powerful organizations that abuse human rights, whether or not they are wearing suits.

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