In celebration of Black History Month, the Black Student Union (BSU) collaborated with Sodexo for the first time Friday to serve up an array of traditional dishes for a taste of culture.
According to Ese Olumhense, president of BSU, Sodexo reached out to BSU beforehand in order to create a cohesive menu.
“[Sodexo] wanted to do a Black History Month celebration, so they asked us to identify some traditional dishes that the chefs could prepare,” said Olumhense, a senior majoring in English. “They reached out to us because they didn’t want to put out the menu without student opinion.”
While Olumhense said it is not quite feasible to represent the various cultures and backgrounds of the members that comprise BSU, she said Sodexo did well in taking student input into account.
“I actually think they did a pretty good job,” Olumhense said. “I respect and commend them for reaching out to us … I think it’s a step in the right direction.”
The menu included fried chicken, Jamaican red beans and rice, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, peach cobbler and yams.
According to Nathaniel Lancaster, a Student Association representative for BSU, Sodexo was supportive throughout the entire process.
“[We wanted] to promote cultural food within the dining halls … They did an excellent job, I must admit,” said Lancaster, a senior majoring in political science.
Though members of BSU said they were pleased with the menu’s outcome, not all of the feedback was positive. According to Olumhense, some students saw the menu as offensive to the black community.
Specifically, students found the inclusion of fried chicken stereotypical.
“Speaking from an uniformed perspective about what might offend black people, especially if you are not black, is just as bad as telling black people how to feel about any kind of experience,” Olumhense said. “Black people and their experiences are important to this campus. We, too, are students and we contribute to the social fabric of the University in a meaningful way.”