A group of Trinity students are starting a campaign to boycott the Aramark company,which is the College-appointed food caterer for Westland Eats in the Hamilton building, due to its connection to direct provision centres.
The campaign is using the slogan “Aramark off our campus” and will officially launch on November 15 in the Robert Emmet theatre. Ellie Kisyombe from Our Table and,Lloyd Sibanda a Bachelor of Arts student in Dublin University College and a resident of the Eyre Powell Hotel Direct Provision Centre in Newbridge will speak at the event. Lassane Ouedraogo the Chair of the Africa Centre will also speak on the night.
The campaign hopes to secure a company without connections to direct provision centres to work in Trinity instead. Trinity currently has a contract with Aramark until 2019, with an option to extend it until 2021. The campaign were denied a Freedom of Information request for the value of the contract between Trinity and Aramark.
Speaking to Trinity News, a member of the boycott campaign, Jessica Dolliver, a Junior Sophister science student at Trinity said: “We are going to boycott and campaign against the presence of Aramark on-campus until it is permanently removed.”
The campaign team plan to hand out leaflets outside Westlands Eats that will include facts about Aramark and direct provision. Currently, Aramark is involved provides food for three centres, accommodating a total of 850 asylum seekers in Cork, Athlone, and Clare. According to the 2016 annual report by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA), the Irish state paid €5.2 million to Aramark for its services. Aramark also received €16 million from the state up to 2010.
Dolliver continued: “Companies like Aramark are benefiting from the exploitation and ill-treatment of these people. No person should have their personal freedoms removed in such a dehumanizing way.”
In 2014, Trinity College Dublin Students Union (TCDSU) voted to oppose direct provision. When speaking of the TCDSU mandate, Dolliver said that the contract with Aramark “flies in the face of the Student Union mandate to oppose Direct Provision. It also directly contradicts the professions of the provost’s strategic plan, which says ‘We will fearlessly engage in actions that advance the cause of a pluralistic, just, and sustainable society’. This is gross hypocrisy and it is hurtful that Trinity students are propping up an exploitative system like direct provision without knowing it.”
The campaign is collaborating with Uplift, which has been the platform for various campaigns surrounding climate change and Palestine, as well as other direct provision projects such as Right to Work. They are also collaborating with the group People and Planet.
People and Planet trained a number of Trinity students in July and is providing the campaign with resources to potentially run it as a larger campaign beyond Trinity, called “Undoing Borders”, which would target both the media and the government on the treatment of migrants and asylum seekers.
In 2015, Aramark installed food outlets Costa, Freshii and Gastro, as well as a new seating area,in the space previously occupied by the Westland Cafe. The new foodlet for the Hamilton was announced as part of Aramark partnership deal with the food franchise Freshii to open outlets in Ireland. Aramark’s contract with Trinity was awarded following a public procurement competition. Aramark did not respond to a request for comment.