Do not force ideals on student body
In an effort to raise awareness about local food sources, the Bowdoin College Democrats (BCD) teamed up with Bowdoin College Dining Service to bring the students "Meatless Mondays." Every Monday all of the Bowdoin dining halls served entirely vegetarian menus in an effort to promote eating locally grown food. While some students were all for the enforced vegetarianism, others were pretty upset — with good reason. While we applaud the initiative to encourage Bowdoin students to eat locally, we disagree entirely with its execution. Forcing people to participate in a cause is never the best way to get them to adopt that cause as their own. If anything, it will just make people reject the cause even more.
It is rather unfair of a college's dining service to force a meatless menu on every student at the college, especially when a group that many students may disagree with sponsors that menu. If the BCD and Dining Services wanted to put the "Meatless Monday" plan into action, they should have designated only one dining hall as entirely meatless for the day, leaving other dining halls open to students who may not want to participate in the program. Instead, all the dining halls went vegetarian for the night, leaving students with no choice but to support the "Meet What You Eat" initiative.
Students pay for their meal plans. Dining services at any college should provide students with as many menu options as possible to accommodate all types of diets. No one group should have a monopoly over what every student eats, even if it is for a good cause. The fact of the matter is, people keep their own personal diets, and they pay good money for meal plans, so those meal plans should allow them to eat according to their diets.
Sam Landis, a senior at Bowdoin, was one of the dissenting voices. In an e-mail, he wrote that his "objection to ‘Meatless Monday' was not so much about the lack of meat or the encouragement of environmental conscientiousness (which we support) but the shallow and inconsiderate manner in which it was carried out," and we whole-heartedly agree. There are much better ways to raise awareness about eating locally than to impose a vegetarian diet on students, regardless of their wills or dietary concerns. Next time, Bowdoin should give the students a choice — they have every right to refuse vegetarianism or the "Meet What You Eat" program, if they choose to do so.