Conversations to ‘Drop Sodexo’ continue as contract with Scripps ends in 2020

A male student speaks into a megaphone while two female students stand beside him.
Organizers Griffin Cloud PZ ’19, Sophie Peters SC ’20 and Alex Hammond SC ’19 give individual statements to kick off the Drop Sodexo rally March 8. (Amy Best • The Student Life)

Scripps College is continuing to look at dining hall service providers to potentially replace Sodexo, as students pressure the administration to move away from the private prison operator. 

Scripps’ contract with Sodexo ends in 2020, and some students have been pushing the school not to renew it due to the company’s ties to for-profit prisons abroad and its a history of allegedly mistreating workers.

One student group, Drop Sodexo, has been advocating against the company for several years.

Now, they might finally see their wish granted. Scripps’ deadline for proposals from dining service companies for the school’s next contract was Thursday, Scripps spokesperson Rachael Warecki said via email. 

The Dining Services Advisory Committee — which will provide recommendations to Scripps President Lara Tiedens for Scripps’ next dining contract — outlined “expectations for food quality, customer service, affordability, alignment with institutional values and industry expertise,” for all of the prospective companies, Tiedens said in an email to students.

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The Drop Sodexo campaign’s primary goal is for Scripps to take its dining services in-house like Pomona College did in 2011, Sophie Peters SC ’20, one of the lead Drop Sodexo organizers,  said. But the school is not considering this approach and has “no plan for self-operation” of dining services, Warecki said.

If in-house isn’t feasible, we would like to see a company that aligns with our values as a movement and the values of the Scripps community,” Peters said.

Drop Sodexo is “currently in talks with the administration regarding the proposal process for new dining hall service providers,” according to Peters. 

Drop Sodexo members have been unsuccessfully pressuring the administration to grant student access to these proposals.

Peters said Drop Sodexo will be “continuing to follow this process” in an effort to “engage the community in a discussion about what the community wants to see, what we want to see and how we think the administration should go about choosing a new provider.” 

A female student holds a sign and stands in front of a crowd of students. Her sign has an Angela Davis quote on it and reads "I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept."
Jenna Floricel SC ’19 voices her desire for change with an Angela Davis quote at the Drop Sodexo Rally on March 8. (Amy Best • The Student Life)

Students previously ramped up their efforts against Sodexo in spring 2019.

In March, the group organized a protest with more than 40 students on Scripps’ campus. At the rally, students presented Tiedens an anti-Sodexo petition with more than 1,000 signatures. 

Some current Scripps Associated Students members made ending the Sodexo contract a centerpiece of their campaign platforms.

At the class of 2019’s commencement in May, many students wore anti-Sodexo stickers on their graduation caps, Peters said. 

Such efforts have helped raise student awareness about the Drop Sodexo campaign, and some students are taking action of their own.

Maya Lynch SC ’22 has avoided eating at Malott Commons so far this semester.

Sodexo also has ties to Harvey Mudd College’s dining hall, but most opposition to the company has come from Scripps students, and protests have focused on Scripps. 

Peters said the campaign is “currently centered at Scripps and at Malott, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t still talking about Harvey Mudd.” 

HMC directly manages its Hoch-Shanahan dining hall but gets “limited services” from its contract with Sodexo, “including a robust recipe system as well as food and supply procurement,” HMC spokesperson Judy Augsburger said in an email to TSL.

HMC isn’t considering switching dining providers, Augsburger said.

This story was updated Oct. 7 at 9:00 p.m.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Sodexo manages Harvey Mudd College’s dining hall. HMC directly manages its Hoch-Shanahan dining hall and only gets “limited services” from Sodexo. TSL regrets this error.
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