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Letters to the editor: September 23, 2009

Full, healthy meals a sign of the times

RE: Rumbling stomachs are a sign of the times at the Dining Commons; Sept. 18

Dear Editor,

Last Friday, there was an interesting article written by Evan Haddad titled “Rumbling stomachs are a sign of the times at the Dining Commons” and while the article was well written, I would like to point out several things that UMass Dining Services is doing that he might not be aware of.

Americans, in general, face an epidemic of diet-linked adverse health conditions and chronic diseases, from obesity and type 2 diabetes to heart disease and various cancers. Today more than ever, many students are looking to their campus dining locations for food choices that are not only healthy, but delicious. It is incumbent on our chefs and staff to embrace opportunities to create healthy, appealing, everyday foods.

With health imperatives in mind, last spring, UMass Dining initiated an innovative menu strategy of stealth Health featuring healthier, flavor-driven menu options, without labeling them specifically as being healthy.

Our goal is to deliver delicious and tasty food with healthy options, to our customers, in the most sustainable and environmentally sensitive manner.

With over 14,000 students on the meal plan and being the third largest dining program in the nation, we would like to take a leadership role in providing healthier menus choices to our customers while supporting environmental initiatives.

The sliders, the mini-burgers, referred to in the article by Haddad, are some of the hottest items in the culinary scene; not only is the meat fresh, never frozen, it comes from a local butcher. With our all-you-care-to-eat program at the DCs, you can eat as many as you chose. We also noticed our students prefer to have an array of food on their plate and have quality food rather than quantity. With our trayless program, I know we can reduce waste while supporting the environment.

Here is what we have done and will continue to do this semester:

1. Reduced the portion size of every item we serve and rolled out a small plate, big flavor program

2. Focused on fruits and vegetables first with the goal of doubling students’ consumption of produce, to promote good health.

3. Highlighted the increased use of healthy plant-based oils, eliminated trans fats, and substantially reduced saturated fats.

4. Increased options of healthy protein choices, such as more fish, nuts, and legumes.

5. Emphasized healthy carbohydrates, increased menu presence of whole grains and increased food and beverage options that have little or no added sugar.

6. Reduced salt (sodium) in food preparation.

7. Served Sustainable Seafood only.

9. Leveraged the flavors of World Cuisines from the Mediterranean, Latin America, and Southeast Africa.

Have no fear, the best is yet to come as we continue to evolve, serving delicious food with healthy options, in the most sustainable and environmentally conscious manner – that’s our mission.

Ken Toong

Executive Director, UMass Dining Services

 

 

Gotta love that satire

RE: “Obama’s hardly hired the best and the brightest;” Alex Perry, Sept. 21

Dear Editor,

I’ve been greatly enjoying the recent trend of your columnists to use satire as a means to prove their points. Two particular works of satire stick out in my mind. The first, “Death Panels: the new liberal threat,” written by Chris Amorosi and, more recently, “Socialist radicals among Obama’s key advisors,” by Alex Perry. Comparing these two, there is no doubt that Mr. Perry is the better satirist. I was in tears with laughter at his ability to so subtly mock the opposition. His writing was so clever, that I almost thought he believed what he said; but, such is the danger of the satirist. I particularly loved his comment about health care: “Basically, that’s a way of saying the government should be the ones determining who is fit for health care and who isn’t.” Which is, of course, most humorous as the government already oversees Medicare. I also loved the part where he said Mr. Emmanuel “is a health care adviser that is a proponent of a system which puts values on lives based on age and health.” Certainly not the impression I ever get from my current health care provider; God save their capitalist souls. Finally, Mr. Perry shows his true satirical genius by referring to Holdren’s book “Ecoscience.” Surely a book published 30 years ago along with two other colleagues is a much better indicator than someone’s entire professional history. Thanks again, Mr. Amorosi and Mr. Perry for your clever style that brings new life to these important issues.

Alan R Levin

UMass student

 

 

The exercise tax

Dear Editor,

The focus on the nation’s health and the cost of providing medical care highlights how much of our lives depend upon the decisions of others. Others that decide how much money to spend on our illness, others that decide what is or is not wrong with us when we feel ill. Yet one decision we have under our control is how much we exercise. Not anymore. UMass is doing its best to ensure that is not up to your motivation, but how much money you have.

Until recently, UMass charged grad students $40 per semester to use the recreational facilities. Even if all you wanted to do was shoot some hoops for an hour or so, it would cost you $40 to shoot that hoop. That pales in comparison to the astronomical increase this semester. To shoot that same hoop you will now pay $125 per semester for the privilege. That’s right, your annual budget for exercise is now no longer enough for just one semester because the cost is over three times higher. It will cost you $375 to shoot a basketball all year round. Has anybody’s income increased by 3 times? Even by just 10 percent? I don’t think so. If you’re an undergraduate, UMass has probably already billed you and likely you don’t know how much more you can pay to stay healthy. Lucky you. Health is in our hands? I don’t think so. You can’t choose to use Boyden and avoid the new recreation center. You can’t choose to pay only for court time or just the pool. Tell me UMass, how have you empowered students to choose a healthy life?

We have a national health crisis with obesity, diabetes and heart disease at record highs. UMass would rather keep it that way than let you decide for yourself to take the healthy path. They say health care is more expensive than ever, they weren’t kidding.

Kwong Chang

Department of Marketing, Isenberg School of Management

 

 

Alana’s take on ALANA

RE: “Institutionalized racism in student government;” Alana Goodman, Sept. 23

Dear Editor,

I would like to clarify the facts around the mistaken and slightly misleading statements made by Alana Goodman in her recent column on the African, Latino/a, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Native American (ALANA) Caucus. First, any student of any race may join the Caucus. Second, the Caucus’s charter was changed in 2004 to comply with the legal concerns raised in 2003. Third, the new leadership of the Caucus is actively seeking membership; anyone interested in becoming a member of or working with the Caucus should contact Will Syldor at wsyldor@student.umass.edu. Fourth, the Caucus serves as a body that allows cultural RSOs to coordinate their schedules and collaborate on events; the $10,000 Ms. Goodman refers to is distributed to cultural RSOs that apply for emergency funding, freeing up money in the $25,000 SGA Finance Reserves for other RSOs. Lastly, Ms. Goodman’s statement that Vice Chancellor Jean Kim asked that the seats be removed is incorrect. The memorandum that the Vice Chancellor sent to the

SGA leadership asks us “to correct the situation so that the SGA Constitution and By-Laws are consistent with the Constitution of the United States.” At no point does she indicate what a resolution would look like, stating, “I trust that your administration has the will and the ability to address this issue and I ask you to resolve it by March 1, 2010.”

SGA President Ngozi Mbawuike is working with her Cabinet and the Senate leadership to ensure that the Caucus fully complies with legal and constitutional principles of fairness while fulfilling its goal of promoting representation of historically marginalized communities.

Finally, the comparison of an imperfect method to promote inclusivity to the deliberate segregation of the Jim Crow laws is a serious misrepresentation of fact and history and is a disservice to The Collegian’s readers. I hope that anyone concerned with this or any issue will shun controversy for its own sake and join in the constructive dialogue that the new SGA leadership seeks to develop.

Sam Dreyfus

Outreach and Education Coordinator, Student Government Association

Comments
11 Responses to “Letters to the editor: September 23, 2009”
  1. John Adams says:

    Mr. Dreyfus,

    While you acknowledge that Jean Kim did send this memo, by being consistent with the Constitution and the law, she is clearly and unequivocally saying “removing the Alana Caucus seats.” This has consistently been her position, as she has said in various occasions, has been the position of the General Counsel’s office, and has been the position of EVERY legal body that has looked at this.

    This summer I worked with the Office of Civil Rights and the ACLU. Rectifying the situation to be consistent with the law means removing the seats. Period. There is no other legal solution.

    Second, no one is questioning the integrity of the Alana Caucus, we are questioning an institution that EVERY legal organization has determined to be illegal.

    To clarify, it is illegal because the Bakke decision explained that quota affirmative action is illegal. It is illegal because all SCOTUS decisions say that affirmative action can only be legal if it is necessary to create a “more diverse environment” for the benefit of all. The SGA already has more than parity level of minority representation, myself included. In fact, over 50% of the SGA has been minority students, because the Alana Caucus is the most powerful political organization on campus.

    If your organization cannot demonstrate the necessity of maintaining the seats to have racial parity with UMASS then they are illegal on that front to.

    To be clear, there is to date, not a single legal organization which believes the seats are legal. Thus your position is not tenable. I invite you to avoid the necessity of the ACLU suing the SGA, by removing the seats on your own accord, as was done with similar seats systems in the past.

    And yes the charter was revised, but it did NOTHING to alleviate the legal concerns brought up. You may parade your organization as the “official legal representative of the groups therein described [African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans].” This is actually their stated representation… but I can assure you that as an Indian-American, you do not represent me or my interests on this campus. In fact, members of your organization have told me that I’m not a “real Indian” because I do not vote according to my nationality.

    You yourself have criticized me for not mentioning that I am a minority when discussing affirmative action. Well here it is, as a minority, I am unequivocally saying, this program is clearly an illegal affirmative action program.

    And as to the reserves, still her point remains, the SGA allocates funds to Alana to reallocate, this is clearly a violation of a number of concepts of yearly allocation by the SGA. But beyond the $10,000, the Alana Caucus utilizes the Student Bridges massive budget (over $300,000 including grants) for their pet projects. To the Senate, Student Bridges was even pitched as the extension of the now defunct Alana Caucus Agency. Thus you can’t say that all they have access to is $10,000. You simply shifted the money around.

    I invite you to clarify why your position directly contradicts the law. I invite you to come up with a legal argument, and I can assure you that “allowing white people in” is not a legal argument to support your illegal affirmative action program. You should look to the Maryland cases for that one.

    You blocked online elections this year. You then called online elections and direct districts racist. But soon UMASS will be able to override yourself and other like-minded individuals who have no compassion for the average student and solely represent your narrow political interest group, that doesn’t even represent the groups you claim to.

    On Monday and Tuesday I invite UMASS students to invite Will Syldor’s party out of office, as they offer nothing to the student body but strikes and protest. They have no plan for the future.
    They have blocked online elections because they thought it would hurt their party.
    They have blocked direct districts for accountability.
    They lack even basic levels of transparency as they have no website.
    They have failed in one of their major mandates to work with Amherst regarding laws effecting UMASS students. This is why the keg law and rowdy party ordinances were put into effect with NO student representation at those meetings.
    They have raised student fees for 2 of the past 3 years.
    And oh yeah, they stole thousands of dollars in student fees.

    I invite UMASS to vote on my referendum for online elections. And I invite UMASS students to ask Mr. Syldor, why do we have such an illegal program within the SGA? And I also invite you to ask Mr. Syldor, what has your organization done for UMASS in the past eight years while in control?

  2. It never occurred to me that Messrs Perry and Amorosi were not unhinged wingnuts, but instead Swiftian geniuses. Intriguing analysis of their writings, Mr. Levin.

  3. Sam Dreyfus says:

    To John Adams,
    I assume you are writing under a pseudonym, since I do not personally know anyone by this name. I am quite confused by the allegation you make that I criticized you for not mentioning your ethnicity in discussions of affirmative action, since I have never done so to anyone.
    I believe there is a fair amount of confusion about the funding sources for Student Bridges, which is certainly not an extension of the Caucus but a clearly defined separate agency.
    I would like to discuss in person the legal concerns you bring up; as I wrote in my letter, we are genuinely trying to determine a fair and legal method, and have been seeking background on relevant legal decisions. You are clearly well-versed in the arguments, and I would like to meet with you to learn more. Please contact me by e-mail if you would be willing to meet.
    Thanks.
    Sam
    sdreyfus@student.umass.edu.

  4. John Adams says:

    I would like to clarify my comment. It was Mr. Syldor who said that I didn’t mention race, Mr. Dreyfus has always been very cordial in discussions on this subject. However much we disagree.

  5. Ed says:

    May I remind Mr. Dreyfus that the KKK had black members? (Seriously, they did, I don’t know how many or exactly why, but they did.) And you can belong to the CAUCUS if you are female, have blond hair, and are willing to sleep with 2 or more members of the CAUCUS which shows just how corrupt this whole thing is.

    Alana Goodman is right and you are wrong. And the ALANA circus is illegal no matter how you justify it. End of discussion.

    And there is actually a Federal court decision that says so.

  6. Ed, for the love of God, can we leave the who-sleeps-with-who nonsense out of the public forum, particularly my organization’s public forum, where I’m trying to foster a sober dialogue?

    For someone who has spoken to me numerous times about respecting the privacy of third parties, you’re often the one to bring this kind of stuff up.

    I’m proposing a discussion on the ALANA issue on neutral ground, and I’ll follow up with concerned parties. In the meantime, play nice, kids. And use your real names. Don’t say something in public unless you’re going to own up to it.

  7. Ed Cutting says:

    can we leave the who-sleeps-with-who nonsense out of the public forum, particularly my organization’s public forum, where I’m trying to foster a sober dialogue?

    Nepotism is a different story. And to be clear, I consider boyfriend/girlfriend situations (and the similar same-sex ones) to be identical as husband/wife situation as defined under the Mass Ethics Laws. And as one who has been in the School of Education longer than I care to remember, and who also worked for Housing Services, there are real issues of nepotism on this campus! (Sean, sometime ask me to tell you what really happened to the Mark’s Meadow School.)

    The classic example that is given is that of a woman who worked for either DMR or DMH – and funded the various agencies and group homes and such that are out here in the valley. And in the course of doing her job, she met and then started dating a man who was running one of these outfits. This was no scandal, they were both single. And when the annual budget came up, she gave his agency the exact same amount of money it had received the prior year – it wasn’t even like she was trying to help him or anything. But she was guilty of an ethical violation and lost her job with the state.

    Now, lets take this one step further: Lets say that Sean was to appoint his girlfriend as EdOp Editor. To make things clear, lets argue for the sake of argument that she is a microbiology major who knows nothing about newspapers and lets also add that her grammar skills are those of a good scientist (i.e. quite lacking). Quite clearly she got the job because of who her boyfriend was and nothing else, and that is nepotism.

    Now what if she was the most qualified person for the position? What if the reason why you were together was because of your mutual interests in the same things? The solution here, as in the case of the woman allocating money to her boyfriend’s nonprofit, is that you kick it upstairs a level. *You* don’t hire her, *you* don’t evaluate her, you keep it all “at arm’s length.” And these things get very complicated which is why places like WalMart have a firm “no employee dating” policy although that is not a solution, either.

    So we go back to the ALANA Caucus, and remember that this was in the late ’90s when the 4th floor of Dwight had been made Asian-Only and they wanted to make the entire building racially pure. And a certain white woman with natural blond hair was appointed to a Caucus SGA seat.

    And I went to certain folk and not-so-quietly asked “what the h*** are you doing, she is whiter than I am!” And I was informed (a) of the sexual relationships, (b) the “black inside” argument, and that (c) those two justified her appointment. (Remember too that I am a “Swamp Yankee” which means that I, technically, am an ALANA student myself — they don’t like to hear that…”)

    And in all innocence, until just now, I had thought that the “black inside” was the converse of the “Oreo” argument, that a conservative black male is “black on the outside, white on the inside” and it was forefront on my mind because Oreo cookies were on the list of things that I simply was not going to let into a UMRC speaking event.

    I do realize that one can interpret the comment in a different manner.

    But when you have women becoming SGA Senators – being handed a major resume perk – simply because of who their boyfriends are, that is nepotism. Or more bluntly, “because of whom they are sleeping with.” And this is a VERY big difference from simply airing everyone’s dirty linens and outing all relationships.

    If people can keep their bedrooms out of the boardroom, I neither know nor want to what they are doing in the bedroom. Nor should I. But when you have people put into the boardroom ONLY BECAUSE of the bedroom, that becomes a different issue.

    And when you have rules being twisted in knots because of the bedroom, I think you should be called on it. Back then they were talking of demanding birth certificates to define race, I remember one time demanding what then they would do in cases of kids who were adopted (and the parents not known).

    And you had a woman whiter than I am declared “black” only because of her sexual relationship with a black man. I have no problem calling them on this…

  8. Abigail Adams says:

    Dear Derek,

    My husband is long dead, please stop using his name as a pseudonym and disgracing his name.

    Yours truly,
    Abigail

  9. Ed Cutting says:

    And the case is out of North Carolina, not Maryland…

  10. George says:

    No matter what anyone says, ALANA is a little screwed up with how they approach these issues… they could be more constructive for the whole community…

  11. Nicole says:

    Yay for the DC, they’ve raised their prices yet again, and cut back on portion sizes. Ok, I’ll give you that one, Americans are fat and need to eat less. Yet the food is bland, it’s like any Joe Schmoe off the street could walk in and get hired as a chef. The food rotation never changes, I could guess everyday what will be served. It’s the same dishes all the time, and not even cooked well!!! I’d rather have less choices, and better taste! But onto the signs that help students eat healthier…they’re useless. Seriously, no one pays attention to them, and the amount of time and effort put into the signs that include everything short of the weight watchers points in what you’re eating is clearly wasted. Yet on the other hand, you can’t put time into at least list what is actually IN the food, so that people with allergies can actually eat without worrying about the hidden ingredients that might make them sick/die!?? Not to mention the fact that the trained monkeys handing out the food can’t even answer simple questions about what is in it or how it’s cooked, and if you ask them to check for you, the reaction is like you asked them to jump off a bridge! Like it’s the most inconvenient favor they’ve even been asked to do! Sorry that I’d like to enjoy a full meal of several dishes, without suddenly getting sick from ingredients I didn’t know were even in them!!! The DC can say it’s working hard for students and the world. But really they are a business, and we all know who’s #1 in business, they are! Don’t waste your time or money…get rid of your meal plan!

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