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 [email protected] 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