An open letter to Luther College on outsourcing

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In June 2009, after Luther College students had left for the summer, the administration announced they were outsourcing the college’s Dining Services to Sodexo, a French-based multinational food service provider. Students were dismayed by the seeming secrecy behind the decision.  David Weiss, a former faculty member of Luther College and father of Ben, a Luther College student, wrote an open letter about this.  In part, he writes:

In the summer of 2006, as Ben readied himself to begin classes at Luther, along with the rest of his entering class, he read Tracy Kidder’s moving portrait of Paul Farmer’s work in Haiti (Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World). Perhaps some of you have read it, too.

Kidder recounts Farmer’s own description of his work as “fighting the long defeat.” Farmer’s point is that, in full recognition of the systemic forces that will always surely render his efforts for the people of Haiti futile in the long run, he chooses, nonetheless, to “make common cause with the loser.”

Ironically, it seems that four years later you have taken it upon yourselves to make certain that the persistent efforts of Ben (and certainly others) allow him to participate firsthand in “the long defeat” regarding the future of dining services at Luther. Perhaps I should be purely grateful that you so effectively bring his education full circle in his last months at Luther, but my feelings are mixed.

I will be the first to admit that situations are always more complex than they seem on the surface. But when it comes to the world of multinational corporations those complexities, whether seen or unseen, almost always take their greatest toll on the planet and its less powerful inhabitants.

As a liberal arts college—and doubly as a college of the church—Luther has an obligation to model not just clarity of thought in its decisions, but also a wideness and depth of thought that go beyond the bottom line. And a commitment to listen to the voices so often silenced throughout human history.

To read David’s letter  in entirety go to David’s blog: http://tothetune.wordpress.com/

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