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Michigan State U. student government votes to ban use of trays in dining halls


The student government at Michigan State University has voted to ban the use of trays in campus dining halls in order to help save the environment.

According to The Morning Watch, the Associated Students of Michigan State University Bill 56-30 would lead to a “decrease [of] food waste, energy waste, and water usage.”

The bill also claims it will assist with students’ diets as “reducing tray usage would improve the health of students by encouraging conscious portion sizes.”

Previous ASMSU legislation noted tray use leads to “unnecessary” water waste, and also pointed to the “astronomical” quantity of animal products offered in MSU dining halls.

In response to an email from The College Fix, MSU spokesperson Emily Guerrant noted the ASMSU bill doesn’t have any real power in an enforcement sense, and instead serves as a recommendation to the university.

“ASMSU also works closely with our Residence Hall Association on topics like this,” Guerrant said. “The university has looked into how it can reduce water usage in the cafeterias, and also post signs that students don’t have to take or use a tray if they don’t want to. So collectively we’re looking at ways to be more sustainable.”

From the Morning Watch story:

The resolution was introduced by College of Agriculture and Natural Resources representative Josh Grindling and seconded by Residential College of the Arts and Humanities representative Casey Christy.

During the debate, Christy cited the advantage of removing trays for the Fall 2020 semester. She pointed, the transition would be aided because incoming freshman have not experienced MSU cafeteria trays.

Junior Logan Coles disproved of the bill telling The Morning Watch, “Eating healthy is an important proponent to my life. When eating in the dining halls, trays are helpful in allowing me to meet my needs. It shouldn’t be banned.”

Olivia Prince stated, “I took a class this semester learning about our carbon footprint (which leads to global warming) something simple like this could make a huge impact.”

Prince is a junior studying special education.

Another student invoked the “stigma” factor: Those requesting trays would be faced with “having to explain themselves.” (After all, who would want to face the wrath of progressive climate change activists?)

Since the links to the ASMU bills in the MW story aren’t working, Ms. Guerrant pointed The Fix to the ASMSU’s Maria Rifiotis, head of its public relations, for more information.

In response to questions from The Fix about studies regarding the amount of water waste (due to tray usage) and recyclable trays, Rifiotis said a University of Michigan study, noted in the bill, revealed that Grand Valley State University, with approximately 19,000 students, “reduced water by 31,000 gallons per year.”

In addition, “the University of Maine at Farmington, with about 12,000 students, was found to have saved 288,288 gallons of water, reduced overall waste by 65,000 pounds and had an annual savings of approximately $57,000.”

Recyclable trays, Rifiotis said, “would create more waste than a student requesting a plastic tray.”

Rifiotis said no student polls were conducted regarding the use of trays as “students from each college […] are elected by the students to represent their interests.”

UPDATE: ASMU Public Relations Coordinator Maria Rifiotis responded to several Fix queries, and the article was amended to reflect her answers.

Read the article.

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 15 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.

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