It has been 3 weeks since a caterpillar larvae was found in an Asian Gourmet meal, and all students have on their plate is a hollow statement from the SCSU.
By: Ali Javeed, Managing Editor
On Oct 15th, Toronto Public Health conducted an investigation into Asian Gourmet, UTSC’s infamous asian take-out spot, and dolled out a host of infractions from a failure to ensure appropriate food temperatures to food contamination. Part 1 of the Underground’s coverage can be found here
Regarding the larvae, the SCSU released the following statement. This was only after a media request through email from the Underground:
“The Scarborough Campus Students' Union is disappointed in the incident that occurred at Asian Gourmet, and is currently investigating. In addition, SCSU is reviewing the lease of vendors in the Student Centre.”
A statement emptier than our mid-semester motivations.
What changes have been made?
Aside from an unofficial boycott by students, a significantly shorter line in front of the business, and a collage of memes on social media feeds - no formal steps have been made to hold Asian Gourmet accountable for their repeated mistakes.
This begs the question of whether or not the Executives truly care for the food safety needs of students, or if they simply prefer to dine on our dollar through student funded conference trips.
The Underground attended the unadvertised, but public SCSU Board of Directors meeting to see what progress had been made on the addressing issues with food on campus. It’s obvious that food standard is of utmost importance, as a high volume of students purchase food on campus each day, surely their safety is important?
It wasn’t even on the meeting agenda
...at least not until introduced as an emergency, and then primary motion by Board of Director for French and Linguistics, Kalkidan Alemayehu.
Alemayehu claimed that she and fellow students had found hair and insects in their food at Rex’s Den - adding to the growing list of food related infractions at UTSC. She believes that the formation of a specialized committee to investigate campus food issues is necessary to gain a deeper understanding of the recurring problem. The committee would conduct an investigation of food vendors, and provide a recommendation of next steps to the Board of Directors by the end of November.
The motion also required that SCSU release a public acknowledgement of the issues on the campus, the progress of their investigation, and their support for the committee, all by November 2nd.
At this time, the SCSU has failed to adhere to the clauses in the motion.
The committee was required to have the SCSU Operations Coordinator (Jeremy Wills, a full-time staff member with extensive business background), a single board member, and a single student. The most important part of the committee would be that it is unbiased in its search for evidence, and thus objective in its recommendations.
But, after a vote in favour of an amendment, the motion wasn’t allowed to pass without the President, Nicole Brayiannis and VP Operations, Desmond Chan joining the committee as well.
This means that rather than having an unbiased committee to investigate the ongoing food issues, two executives that have a direct interest in the investigation’s outcomes, are part of the group conducting it.
What’s concerning as well, is that when this motion was brought up, the board became aware of an alleged investigation being carried out, but only by the VP Operations and Executive Director, Francis Pineda. Both of whom mentioned nothing of their progress, or the direction of the investigation into food safety on campus despite having speaking rights at the meeting.
Why wasn’t there a committee already formed? Why wasn’t their a formal update on their investigation?
As student’s we shouldn’t be surprised by the inaction regarding food thus far.
If the Union is unable to advertise their public meeting days on social media, an avoidance in making an official statement about food safety infractions (until being forced to do so) doesn’t seem uncharacteristic either.
But thankfully, these issues aren’t permanent, and do have solutions. Despite the amendment of the committee membership, if this slate of students can make real change to vendor quality throughout campus - they will have helped to solve an issue that has plagued this campus for at least a decade.
Frosh maggots, Gourmet larvae and Rex’s hair. A myriad of options on the secret menu of UTSC.