Tell Penn to Divest From Aramark

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Dear Dr. Gutmann and the Penn Athletics Department,

We are confident in Penn’s commitment to forming ethical partnerships with the community and corporations alike. As such, we are asking that the University divest from its partnership with and boycotts the services of the Aramark Corporation. While the University changed its dining service provider from Aramark to Bon Appetit in 2009, the Aramark Corporation has continued its relationship with the Penn Athletics department, for which it has provided food, beverage, and retail services since 2001. 

The multibillion dollar Aramark Corporation has repeatedly been accused of human rights violations largely related to its significant investment in the prison industrial complex. Allegations include the provision of food of unacceptable quality (containing maggots and rocks) and quantity (in underfeeding prisoners), labor exploitation of prisoners, drug trafficking, sexual harassment of prisoners, and other employee misconduct. 

Penn has recently committed itself to “find better ways forward to understand and address systemic racism”. We believe that this is one step towards that goal. America is infamously known for having the largest prison population. It is undeniable that mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex plagues our country and disproportionately affects Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities. The disproportionate imprisonment of Black, Indigenous, and Latinx people negatively impacts their communities socially, economically, and politically. Currently, more than 7.4% of African American adults cannot vote due to felony convictions, thus disenfranchising them and muting their voices. Corporations such as Aramark profit from this system and support its perpetuation. As a result, Aramark contributes significantly to the prison industrial complex, and thus Penn’s investment in them supports this continued injustice.

Universities across the country are being called to end their relationships with Aramark. These include Barnard College, Berklee College of Music, University of Virginia, University of Minnesota, University of Akron, University of Texas, Florida State University, Temple University, and many more. Many universities, such as Barnard College, responded to student demands and terminated their relationship with Aramark. We urge Penn to follow their lead and to use this opportunity to support local, minority owned businesses or corporations.

Since 2017, the Penn & Slavery Project has been working to reveal Penn’s historical connection to the institution of slavery. In our continued partnership with the Aramark Corporation, we endorse a form of modern slavery through the involuntary servitude of prison populations. As we move to a more racially just and ethical future, we urge Penn to terminate its relationship with the Aramark Corporation.