Local/Regional News
6:41 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

UK Continues Dining Privatization Talks, Students Protest

Discussions between the UK and companies interested in providing dining services for the school continue – as do protests from student activists.

Student protesters unfurl a banner in UK's Patterson Office Tower.
Credit Josh James / WUKY

It’s been more than a year since Brock Meade and a group of fellow University of Kentucky students with United Students Against Sweatshops began protesting the privatization of dining services – and Tuesday, they’re back in a familiar office.

"We're here delivering this to President Capilouto..." he says, flanked by a handful of supporters.

The group is delivering more than 200 student signatures and 100 faculty signatures opposing plans to privatize before heading to a UK Board of Trustees meeting.

"We requested space to speak on the agenda. We were unfortunately not granted that, but we're definitely going to try to take space to speak at the board and express our concern," Meade says.

The demonstrators made good on that promise, interrupting the meeting with chants of "No outsourcing and no Sodexo!" The students worry that large dining service providers will usher in lower wages and push full time workers into part-time positions without employer-sponsored health benefits.

UK executive vice president for finance and administration Eric Monday says the protesters have helped shape the dialogue with companies.

"We have conversations with the companies that are in these discussions and we ask them about that and go into a great amount of detail about what happened and what they did about it and what they see as their perspective," Monday told WUKY.

Monday says the talks are ongoing and the university cannot legally unveil the names of the companies until after the process is finished.