At Oberlin, foodies seek a 'safe space'

Students at Oberlin College have a new injustice to fight: steamed chicken.

Some undergrads at the left-leaning Ohio college are upset at the ingredients and quality of several Asian dishes being served in the cafeteria, The Oberlin Review reported. The frustrations first arose in November, but have continued into late December.

One of the chief complaints? Steamed chicken instead of fried chicken as the main component of General Tso’s chicken.

Another supposed food infraction involved the Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich. Instead of a baguette, grilled pork, pate, pickled vegetable and herbs, Oberlin diners received pulled pork and coleslaw on ciabatta bread.

“When you’re cooking a country’s dish for other people, including ones who have never tried the original dish before, you’re also representing the meaning of the dish as well as its culture,” junior Tomoyo Joshi told The Review. “So if people not from that heritage take food, modify it and serve it as ‘authentic,’ it is appropriative.”

Some black students at Oberlin also have raised concerns about food being served by the same catering company – Bon Appetit – at the Afrikan Heritage House. The food grievances have even given way to “safe space” fears.

“We students are concerned about our safety,” sophomore Gloria Lewis told The Review. “And so beyond that, it’s about having a safe space. So it’s not just the dining hall. It’s everything. It’s the posts on Yik Yak. It’s the micro-aggressions.”

Food service officials say they’re working to allay students’ concerns.