Students Mount "Zombie" Protest Against Privatized Dining

Apr 21, 2014

Demonstrations against privatization of University of Kentucky’s dining services continued Monday.

UK student Autumn Murphy (foreground) goes zombie to protest efforts to privatize dining services on campus
Credit Josh James / WUKY

The flash mob protest staged next to UK’s Main administrative building might have been mistaken for a Thriller rehearsal if not for the chants that followed.

"Keep public dining! Keep our Kentucky Promise!" the Students Against Sweatshops protesters yelled, all donning zombie makeup.

The demonstrators argue that signing on with a major for-profit dining service provider such as Sodexo would "kill" the university's commitment to its dining workers and local food growers.

"Sodexo, Aramark, and Compass... all have demonstrated that they cut health benefits for workers and just treat workers rather poorly. We think it's a bad decision for a pubic university, the land-grant university in Kentucky, to make," says UK senior Ben Norton.

While the administration had no comment on the demonstration, officials have stressed that negotiations are still ongoing and any contract with an outside dining service would include strong protections for workers and continued commitments to Kentucky Proud. They say the protesters have helped shape the dialogue with the companies.

Still, the students remain wary of promises made by the large international dining services providers. Their demonstration was followed by a four-hour sit-in at the UK president’s office.