Students’ Concern Over No Tray Policy Outweighs University’s Racial Tensions

Despite being the focus of a New York Times cover story and the center of minority protests demanding equal representation, the University of Michigan student body has remained most concerned with the cafeterias’ no tray policy. This environmentally friendly move has reportedly garnered even more student action than the Being Black at the University of Michigan or #BBUM, campaign on Twitter.

Both mass protests and activism via social media in support of trays returning have taken campus by storm. A Twitter hashtag was created, #BBOT, for Bring Back Our Trays. Students organized a walk out of the East Quad dining hall during Friday’s dinner, and others are currently taking part in a week- long hunger strike that began on Tuesday. While the administration acknowledged the #BBUM campaign and has negotiated reforms with student leaders, they remain staunchly committed to keeping trays out of students’ lives.

Jimmy Duncan, a co-founder of the movement to return dining hall trays, had much to say to reporters. “I’m disgusted by our administration’s inaction. It’s truly representative of the disconnect they have with the student population. Nothing affects our daily lives more than not having trays in the dining hall.”

“It’s completely unfair and unimaginable that in 2014 I literally have to make four or five trips to carry my plates, cups, and silverware every meal.”

Duncan continued, “I feel betrayed by the University. When I was making my college decision, the pamphlets they sent me showed kids using trays in the dining halls. Now that I’ve gotten here, I can see that they were just trying to lure more students like me to Ann Arbor.”

When asked about his involvement in other campus issues, such as the fight for affirmative action in the admissions process or the treatment of people of color on campus, Duncan stated, “I’m just trying to focus on the bigger issues.”


Originally Published March 2014


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