Re: “The Case of the Vanishing Food,” editorial, March 4.
For years now, we’ve read again and again ridiculous news coming out of Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS). For years writers for The Crimson have come close to identifying the problem, but never quite got it. HUDS is a monopoly. Almost all students live on campus, and they are forced into an unlimited meal plan. It is a sick, harmful system, that desperately needs reform. I have heard that HUDS is a for profit company, though I’ve never been able to confirm that. They describe themselves as “a self-sustaining department of Harvard University” and “the oldest collegiate foodservice in America,” neither of which describes the economic realities behind the hidden giant. Considering they daily serve 1,600 bright young men and women who spend much of their waking life seeking to better understand...well, everything, the lack of transparency is shocking. And questions about HUDS’ fundamental make-up seem never to be asked, let alone answered. Does an institution with monopolistic control not only over residential dining but also over catering of campus events and restaurants in campus buildings need a marketing director overseeing a “full-service marketing and design center?” Why does a department of a non-profit need a Director for Business Planning and Development? And why, oh why, has the intellectual home of Larry Summers and Harvey Mansfield been allowed to banish the free market from what has always been the basic building block of the human economy: food.
The time is long past for a change. Students, faculty, and most of all house masters and resident deans need to band together, come up with a reasonable solution, and strip control of food from HUDS.
ALEXANDER L. EDELMAN ’07
Kansas City, Mo.
March 5, 2008