At Wellesley College, certain dietary restrictions are accommodated for at certain dining halls. For this academic year, halal dining has been moved to Tower Court after having been at Bae Pao Lu Chow dining hall, located on the top floor of the Lulu Chow Wang Campus Center, for the last two academic years. The change was announced in an email from the Office of Residential Life and Housing on May 22, 2023, approximately two weeks before general housing selection began for the 2023-2024 school year. Kosher dining has remained in Stone Davis dining hall.
The reason for this change has to do with the student-led sustainability initiative in 2021 to reduce red meat consumption on campus. Wellesley Fresh explained that, “With Lulu serving the largest number of students daily, adding back pork and increasing plant based items into the rotation allowed for the opportunity to decrease red meat consumption as a whole in dining.”
Halal food refers to food that is permissible for Muslims to consume according to Islamic dietary laws, as outlined in the Quran and the Hadith. The term “halal” is an Arabic word that means “permissible” or “lawful,” so it also covers other aspects of life, food only being one such regard.
There are a few key tenets of halal food; the one that most people are familiar with is that Muslims are not allowed to consume pork, carnivorous animals, birds of prey, carrion, and blood. The term “Zabiha” is an Arabic word that refers to the requirements for slaughtering an animal for food.
Chaplain Amira Quraishi, who is also the Muslim Life Coordinator at the College, explains that requirements zabiha refers to include, “having humility in the act of taking a life, using an extremely sharp blade to make the slaughter as fast and thorough as possible, not allowing the animals to see other animals being slaughtered, draining blood upside-down, and a prayer of gratitude and blessing over the animal before being slaughtered.”
At Wellesley, the halal dining program is defined as “a culinary program that uses zabiha halal meats and eliminates the use of any items containing pork or alcohol in the creation of culinary items.” Fruits and vegetables are always halal, as long as they are prepared without the use of alcohol. In addition to Tower Dining Hall being halal, all other dining halls offer vegetarian or vegan options at meals.
Since the switch from Bae Pao to Tower was announced before returning students were able to select their housing for the 2023-24 school year, it is possible that it influenced some students’ housing choices. The Co-President of Al-Muslimat, the student-run organization that is dedicated to supporting all Muslims on campus, Rahnuma Aroshi ’25, noted that the Muslim community is less centered around the Quint this year, as it has been in previous years. The Quint, which includes Beebe, Cazenove, Munger, Pomeroy and Shafer, are the dorms located closest to Lulu Chow Wang Campus Center, where halal dining was previously located.
Upon move-in, the first-year students received a brochure that had information that stated Tower Court was the halal dining hall. However, the Wellesley College website, at the time of move-in and still to this day, states that halal dining is located at Bae Pao. This has caused confusion for some of the first-year students who are still learning to navigate the College’s campus. The Secretary of Al-Muslimat, Salma El Boudali ’27, explained that “there were first-year students … who were misinformed that Lulu was the halal dining hall and they ate meat there … I don’t think that there was clear enough communication about the change in the dining hall.”
Despite the confusion, both El Boudali and Aroshi have attested that there is an adequate halal food selection at the College. When asked about the selection, El Boudali said “I think there is a pretty reasonable and abundant selection … even when I go to other dining halls they typically have a lot of vegan options and a lot of vegetarian options. So I have not found trouble at all at Wellesley in regards to not being able to eat something I want to eat.”