Call for UNC to Divest from Aramark

Call for UNC to Divest from Aramark

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Kaki McNeel started this petition to Kevin Guskiewicz and

Dear Kevin Guskiewicz and Scott Myers,

We are confident in UNC'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 boycott the services of Aramark Corporation. The University changed its dining contract to Aramark in 2001, and has continued to support Aramark for 20 years despite discriminatory practices and unethical behavior.

The multibillion-dollar Aramark Corporation has repeatedly been accused of human rights violations largely related to its significant investment in the prison-industrial complex, or the use of imprisonment and policing for economic and political gain. Aramark perpetuates incarceration in the US by both serving correctional facilities and employing former prisoners.

Aramark’s contracts with prisons aren’t inherently unethical, but countless ex-Aramark employees have reported corrupt practices behind closed doors, including large pay cuts after employee onboarding, starving employees during their shifts, and failing health code checks. Per a reporter at the State Press, in 2011, an Aramark employee was fired after reporting rat feces and mice in food refrigerators. Numerous employees have raised concerns with a risk of losing their jobs and no change in practice.

UNC has committed itself to address systemic racism. This is one step towards that goal. Per Preethi Kumaran at the University of Pennsylvania’s research: “the prison industrial complex plagues our country and disproportionately affects Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities. 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.” 

Aramark fails to pay a living wage, has a history of discriminatory practices, and repeatedly presents a lack of care for its employees. Our CDS employees deserve a living wage and better treatment. UNC should not verbalize a supposed commitment to equity while we simultaneously exchange millions of dollars with Aramark annually. 

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 and NYU, responded to student demands and terminated their relationship with Aramark. 

As UNC’s contract with Aramark comes up for renewal in 2022, it is critical to divest from Aramark and invest in a partnership with a food service provider that aligns with the values we claim to hold. We urge UNC to terminate its contract with Aramark and re-employ current Aramark staff to continue working at UNC. If we want to uphold our commitment to upending injustice on our campus, Aramark cannot be part of the equation.

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