Wellesley Against Mass Incarceration (WAMI) is an on-campus student organization. This article represents the viewpoints of its leaders and members.
Wellesley College must end our contract with AVI Foodsystems, and as representatives of Wellesley Against Mass Incarceration (WAMI), we demand a system controlled and operated by the College to be established that provides food services moving forward. With the support of the extended Wellesley community, we need to say #GoodbyeAVI.
AVI Foodsystems, as detailed in a Sep. opinion piece by WAMI President Tiana Brote ’21, has continued to employ managers accused of sexual, emotional and physical abuse with racist motivation. Further, we know they provide vending services to private prisons and are aware of other business practices that are not aligned with Wellesley’s values.
After our initial petition, which immediately followed the release of Brote’s article, President Johnson’s office sent a response to Brote and to one of WAMI’s vice presidents. This response failed to acknowledge the sole demand of our petition, which was to end the contract with AVI. The president’s office also assumed we had issues with the food and service, but that is not the case; we feel Wellesley Fresh has always been excellent solely because of the unionized employees who work there. We are asking for all dining hall workers to maintain their jobs and we do not have any reason to believe this would pose a logistical challenge. The response then dismissively stated that all employees who participate in Title IX investigations are protected from retaliation, leading us to believe that the administration of Wellesley College does not believe all employees need to be protected at all times. Retaliation may not always target the person who files a claim and instead may be directed at their friends or team, and not all victims of workplace discrimination and harassment can or wish to report it.
We trust that a self-operated dining system will allow for managers, who would now be Wellesley employees, to be held accountable and workers to be safe. Furthermore, a self-operated system would allow the College to directly purchase food from local vendors, as opposed to using larger contracts, cutting out transportation and ultimately sourcing food more sustainably. And importantly, a self-operated dining system would avert Wellesley’s relationship with a corporation that makes millions of dollars by supporting prisons and exploiting incarcerated people.
While we know that a self-operated system takes work to build, it is within Wellesley College’s ability. We are asking for a timeline of no more than three years from today. We have put together a Guide to Self-Op to help potential and dedicated supporters of our campaign envision a future where Wellesley students, parents and donors do not financially support prison profiteers with every bite.
To demand that Wellesley end the contract with AVI Foodsystems, we ask alumnae to sign this petition and send a follow-up email to Wellesley’s administration explaining why you did. We ask students, parents and other stakeholders to also send an email explaining why Wellesley must terminate our partnership with AVI and pledging to withhold donations until the contract has been ended. Together, we can terminate Wellesley’s partnership with a morally corrupt business that refuses to protect our community members.