DUC to begin serving food, sources say

December 16, 2009
By Jackson Miller

Emory offi­cials today con­firmed plans for the kitchen at Dobbs University Center (“the DUC”), a pop­u­lar eatery among stu­dents who have no other options, to begin serv­ing only edi­ble prod­ucts dur­ing the spring semes­ter of 2010. The deci­sion reflects a wide­spread push by Emory offi­cials to rethink green ini­tia­tives encroach­ing on stu­dents’ health and convenience.

“We were receiv­ing sev­eral thou­sand com­plaints every semes­ter about the DUC,” recalled Connie Sattis-Long, Emory’s Green Director of Green Student Life, in an inter­view with Torch reporters Tuesday.  “But as a research insti­tu­tion, we know that sev­eral thou­sand com­plaints could cer­tainly be anec­do­tal.  We had to spend sev­eral years col­lect­ing online sur­veys before we could be sure the major­ity of stu­dents were unhappy.”

For the bet­ter part of a decade, the DUC has sold what may legally be referred to only as “food-like sub­stances” at a “dining-style sit­ting area” on the sec­ond floor.  Food prepa­ra­tion, which requires eco­log­i­cally irre­spon­si­ble prac­tices such as har­vest­ing sun-ripened corn and bast­ing suc­cu­lent chicken in zesty herbal mari­nades, under­mines Emory’s mis­sion to be envi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able by 2015.  In 2001, Emory part­nered with Marriott-owned chem­i­cal com­pany Sodexho to begin syn­the­siz­ing waste prod­ucts into shapes and col­ors that stu­dents could eas­ily mis­take for edi­ble food.

Satisfied DUC customer

Typical DUC customer

The DUC kitchen, which prides itself on recy­cling 100% of the mate­ri­als used in sub­stance prepa­ra­tion, has since served green dishes such as recy­cled sty­ro­foam boiled in reclaimed dish­wa­ter and fla­vored with dis­carded motor oil—“Soup-style Chicken-noodle Goo” accord­ing to the menu.

Impetus for revamp­ing DUC cui­sine came not just from sat­is­fac­tion sur­veys.  According to data col­lected by Sattis-Long’s office, stu­dents eat­ing reg­u­larly at the DUC became sus­cep­ti­ble to numer­ous med­ical con­di­tions, such as lack of energy and loss of moti­va­tion.  Other com­pli­ca­tions caused by DUC patron­age include wheez­ing, insom­nia, tun­nel vision, “vol­canic” diar­rhea, rest­less leg syn­drome, and can­ni­bal­ism.  One stu­dent inex­plic­a­bly con­tracted Bubonic Plague and had to be quar­an­tined in Complex until his excru­ci­at­ing death.  But all that is about to change.

“We found out that stu­dents pay us $200,000 to go here and deserve to be treated as more than after­thoughts,” said Sattis-Long.  “We’re con­sid­er­ing being con­cerned about their health and well-being in an offi­cial, school-wide capacity.”

When asked whether off-campus stu­dents would even­tu­ally be allowed to drive to school instead of walk­ing to cam­pus through tor­ren­tial rain, whether shut­tles would some­day go a few feet out of their way to stop at large apart­ment com­plexes, and whether ubiq­ui­tous blue recy­cling bins might also be accom­pa­nied by reg­u­lar trash­cans, Sattis-Long deferred to her superior.

“You’ll have to speak to Ken [Gao],” she said.  “He’s Emory’s Vice Green Chancellor of Green Student Green Affairs.”

“Green,” she added.

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