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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Dining protest led by students during Family Weekend

Photo by Madeline Marriott for The Lafayette
Approximately 50 people were in attendance for the protest, with many bystanders and parents watching.

An hours-long, student-led protest directed at Parkhurst Dining was held in front of Farinon College Center on Saturday through pouring rain. A flyer handed out during the protest listed its main concerns as “workers … being underpaid, overworked, and verbally abused” and that “Parkhurst has failed to provide students with medical and religious accommodations.”

The protest was advertised as a “dining sit-in” in which the attendees purposefully blocked the main steps of Farinon, the location of Family Weekend registration. It was organized primarily by Ari Ismail ‘26, Ariel Haber-Fawcett ‘24 and Cara Logue ‘26.

“We’re here to disrupt Family Weekend and make it clear to the parents of the students that this is not sustainable,” Haber-Fawcett said. “We can’t continue on this way.”

Haber-Fawcett said that organizers of the event discussed the idea of it with dining staff and “ran the idea past them” to ensure that staff would not face consequences for the student-led protest. Dining staff members were largely supportive of the protest, according to several spoken to by The Lafayette. 

“Issues in the dining halls have gone from bad to worse,” an email sent by Haber-Fawcett that circulated the campus community last Monday read. The email was sent out to students, including those who spoke at the Student Government dining hearing earlier this semester, according to Ismail. It was also advertised on several social media platforms.

Several bystanders stopped to watch the protest, including visiting parents Jim and Deidre Horan, who were visiting their daughter, Elizabeth Horan ‘27, a protest participant.

“Something needs to be done,” Jim Horan said. “It’s good that the kids are out here protesting and hopefully it will result in better food and better conditions for the workers.”

“We’re just really proud of our students who are standing up for themselves,” Deidre Horan added.

Upwards of 50 people participated in the protest at its peak, including at least one dining employee and several alumni who graduated last spring.

Cayenne, an Upper Farinon dining staff member who did not share her surname, said during the protest that she suffered a seizure at work “about a month ago” when she was “extremely stressed at [her] job.”

“I was catatonic for about 45 minutes,” she spoke to the crowd. “[My supervisors] did not do anything for 45 minutes.”

Christine Blaha, resident district manager of Parkhurst, declined to comment on the protest, citing displeasure with her last interview with The Lafayette.

“I’m here to support the students as well as the dining staff because it really pains me to see that there’s no representation in food, there’s no variety in food …  there’s not much accessibility either,” Cayenne said after the protest. “I’m also here because the way that we’re being treated at work [is] absolutely disgusting, horrible.”

Several members of the Parkhurst marketing staff, who were handing out cookies during the protest, declined to comment.

Aside from the general treatment of employees, one of the main claims protesting students made was that workers were “getting paid just $10 an hour.” The Lafayette could not corroborate reports of dining employees making these wages.

The protest eventually moved to the lobby of Marquis Dining Hall. Dining management offices are located on the ground floor of Marquis, and there was an ongoing private event attended by college President Nicole Hurd, who walked through the protest to exit the building.

“I always think it’s great when students use their voice,” Hurd said. “I am a big advocate for student voices.”

Among other Lafayette administrators who witnessed the protest were the new vice president for student life, Sarah Moschenross, and Hurd’s chief of staff, Nicole Eramo.

Moschenross echoed Hurd’s sentiment about the protest.

“I think it’s wonderful when students organize and use their voices,” Moschenross, who could be seen conversing with some of the protesters, said. “And I think the students here are doing a great job of that. They’re being safe, they’re taking care of each other, the weather’s terrible, but they still came out.”

Moschenross added that she didn’t “have enough information” to comment on the topics of the protest.

“I feel very confident that [the administration is] taking [the concerns] very seriously, from what I can see,” she added. “They’re working really hard with Parkhurst to remedy any concerns that have come up and to address them.”

Ismail said that following the protest, the organizers and some participants “worked on a list of solidified demands” called “Dining Service Demands” to be sent to Lafayette administration and Parkhurst Dining management.

“Dining hall workers love us, and we love them and so we’re here to stand up for them, advocate for them and speak up for the fact that they deserve rights, just like us,” Haber-Fawcett said.

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About the Contributors
Selma O'Malley
Selma O'Malley, News Editor
Waiting for someone to write a sitcom about a college newspaper.
Madeline Marriott
Madeline Marriott, Editor-in-Chief
Maddie (she/her) is a senior English major with a Government & Law minor. As the Editor-in-Chief, a Mentor Writing Associate, a Senior Student Contributor for Lafayette Communications, a Communications Intern for the Office of Sustainability, co-founder and Vice President of English Club, and a Senior Interviewer for Lafayette Admissions, no writing happens on campus without her knowing about it. Her Google Calendar would make your head spin. She is a die-hard Swiftie and Phillies fan, a collector of tote bags, a builder of a Hay Day empire, and an avid Goodreads and Letterboxd user. She smokes cigars and uses an old-timey typewriter and notepad in the newsroom.
Trebor Maitin
Trebor Maitin, Managing Editor
Pennsylvania enthusiast.

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  • C

    Corporate Dining Is BadSep 30, 2023 at 7:12 am

    It’s curious that Parkhurst representatives all declined to comment. Weird, it’s like every time someone from that corporation opens their mouth they spew lies. Best to keep quiet and not get in trouble with HR, amirite, Christine Blaha? I sincerely hope the worker who had the chair taken away from them, despite a doctor’s note, pursues a lawsuit over the blatant ADA violation that occurred. Just say no to corporate dining!