The recent University election cycle provided a jolt of excitement for students craving a cheap and greasy meal from Taco Bell. The University Party ran on a platform which included bringing a Taco Bell to campus. While this may seem to be a trivial issue, students who have stuffed themselves with Wendy’s, Subway and pizza ad nauseum latched onto this campaign promise. Despite the imagined appeal of Taco Bell, the Michigan Student Assembly would be making a mistake if it brought a Taco Bell to campus.

Taco Bell’s history on important social issues reveals the fact that it has not been a responsible corporate citizen. Many observers have raised concerns regarding Taco Bell’s environmental record. Others have criticized its labor practices. Taco Bell employees have complained publicly about the way that the restaurant chain has treated them. The University should not be working to attract an organization to campus known for paying its workers substandard wages. Specifically, workers who pick tomatoes for Taco Bell have called for a boycott of the chain, alleging they work in near slave-labor conditions.

The University community in the past has rallied against corporations with poor records on issues of societal importance. Students have organized campaigns criticizing Nike for its poor labor practices. They also convinced the administration to divest from tobacco companies because of their reprehensible track record. Students now must resist the urge to bring another cheap restaurant to campus and rally around the University’s values instead.

Beside these troubling issues, both the University and MSA would better serve the student body by not bringing Taco Bell to campus because students would benefit more from healthier food options. Busy students eat a disproportionate amount of fast food and junk food. MSA would be more responsible to address these very serious issues. An affordable, convenient and healthy alternative to Taco Bell deserves serious consideration from MSA and the University. These larger issues related to student dining options would improve the quality of student life more than trivial campaign pledges.

The fact that the University Party took into account student concerns by promising to bring a Taco Bell to campus is admirable. Its ignorance of the larger issues involved, however, is disturbing. In order to maintain the University’s responsibility to its students and its societal values, MSA should reject calls to bring Taco Bell to one of the nation’s most progressive campuses.

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