OPINION: Drop Sodexo has to go all in and stop being hypocritical

Two hands holding up a white sign with black text that says "Drop Sodexo."
Graphic by Anaga Srinivas

I recognize that it’s hypocritical that I, a grade-A Jeff Bezos hater, have a student Amazon Prime account. As much as I despise Amazon’s attack on small businesses and alleged terrible labor practices, I really really wanted that pig onesie for Halloween so that I could dress as, of all things, a “filthy capitalist.” 

That said, I am not so lucky as to be leading a movement against Amazon, nor am I in a position in which my refusal to buy a onesie will make an impact on Amazon’s sales in the United States. 

However, the leaders of Scripps’ Drop Sodexo movement are, in fact, in that lucky position. Where they choose to eat has an impact, and whether they’re attacking Sodexo halfheartedly or wholeheartedly matters. 

That’s why Drop Sodexo should start tackling Sodexo and Harvey Mudd College, and why any 5C student against Sodexo should stop eating at Malott Dining Commons or Hoch-Shanahan Dining Commons. Otherwise, the movement can appear hypocritical.

On Wednesday after Core I, the mandatory Scripps class for first-years, I usually head on over to the Hoch for pho. If I didn’t know where the Hoch was, it would hardly matter. I could just float atop the tide of Scrippsies charging towards the delicious noodle soup. 

Anyone familiar with the Hoch on Wednesdays knows that the lines can stretch to a 10- to 15-minute wait. This is just one manifestation of Scripps’ love affair with HMC’s dining hall. In fact, in my experience, it seems a relative consensus among 5C students as a whole that Mudd and Malott have some of the best food on campus. 

Both dining halls use Sodexo (even if Mudd does to a lesser extent), which can’t be a coincidence. Therefore, it’s fair to assume that a change in management at Malott alone could alter its food quality, which might send more students to Mudd for superior fare.  

In this situation, Sodexo could end up serving a similar number of students as it did before Scripps’ switch. Either way, whether dropping Sodexo makes HMC more popular or not, Sodexo will still make money off the 5Cs, and Drop Sodexo’s mission would be incomplete. All they will have achieved was dissociating Scripps’ name with Sodexo’s. 

Some Scrippsies will argue that they have neither power over HMC’s administration nor a place deciding HMC matters. To this, I’d point out that Drop Sodexo didn’t ask everyone who goes to Malott whether they wanted Sodexo gone; they just went for it because they felt strongly about the issue. 

Just like how the Scripps dining hall is not just for Scripps students, HMC’s dining hall is not just for Mudd students. It’s meant for Scrippsies, too, and thus Scrippsies have skin in the game and tokens with which to play. I believe that Scripps students have just as much pull over HMC’s dining hall as they do over their own. 

Also, and this should be obvious, Scripps students can rally HMC students to the cause. They can lay the groundwork for a rebellion when HMC’s contract with Sodexo goes up for renewal. Drop Sodexo has the power to effect change everywhere, and it’s choosing not to wield it. 

Altruism knows no borders. So why does Drop Sodexo?

I understand that Drop Sodexo has limited resources and is marshalling them towards Scripps, where they can make their biggest possible impact. But the optics of the situation matter. If Drop Sodexo ignores HMC, it can make it seem like they only care about not being associated with Sodexo at Scripps and that they only want to drop Sodexo because Sodexo hurts their image. 

And it makes it seem like Drop Sodexo is not willing to go “all the way” or take on big challenges to reach their goals.

If I were in the Scripps administration, I would take Drop Sodexo much more seriously if they showed interest in HMC as well as Scripps because it would show that their moral grounding in the movement is strong enough to keep them fighting, even in the face of large, tough obstacles like the HMC administration. 

In an interview with TSL in October, one of Drop Sodexo’s organizers, Sophie Peters SC ’20, said that the campaign is “currently centered at Scripps and at Malott, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t still talking about Harvey Mudd.” 

This is a good start, but if they want to seem like they’re serious and make a real difference, Drop Sodexo should boycott Malott and the Hoch, get others to do the same and start efforts to rid the 5Cs of Sodexo as a whole so we can never support it again. In short, Drop Sodexo needs to whole-ass their movement, and they need to do it now.

Margot Rosenblatt SC ’23 is from Manhattan, New York. Instead of subjecting her friends to her political rants, she now directs them to a piece of paper that people can choose to read. She would like to thank her roommate Lena for this piece of brilliant kvetching.

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