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Vanderbilt Students Protest University’s Cor...

Vanderbilt Students Protest University’s Corporate Partners

There’s a nationwide campaign to boycott Wendy’s over its reluctance to ethically source its produce, and it made its way to Vanderbilt University this weekend.

When the Coalition of Immokalee Workers negotiated fair prices and practices for Florida’s tomato industry, most major companies joined the program. Wendy’s didn’t, giving them the dubious distinction of “less ethical than Wal-Mart.” For Vanderbilt students, seeing their own school cozy up to Wendy’s was too much.

Partnerships between universities and fast food companies are lucrative ventures, with restaurants competing for students’ lifelong brand loyalties. Universities, for their part, are all too willing to make money from feeding students, whether they’re working with Wendy’s or a dining hall company like Aramark. There are plenty of great questions to be asked about whether schools should be profiting at all. Even then, though, working with Wendy’s seems hard to justify.

What do you think?

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In a perfect world, I’d be a professor who teaches poetry using episodes of mediocre sci-fi procedurals, but for now, I’m just a tutor who watches a lot of TV. I got my BA from Kalamazoo College in English with a focus on creative writing, and someday soon I’d like to go back to academia.

Most of my formal teaching training was as a creative writing TA, but I’ve used those skills professionally more to tutor math and write data entry training materials. And though I’d like to focus my work on what I’m really passionate about (which is Netflix binges and outdated video games, mostly), it’s the craft of teaching and writing that keeps me coming back. That’s why I’m excited to be a part of High Faluter: I’m finding that academia doesn’t just stay in academia. And if I can bring crappy midbrow entertainment into academia too, well, all the better. You can find me on Twitter: @StewartFinnegan