Sodexo, the 18th largest corporation in the world, is infamous for its host of civil rights abuses, exploitative labor policies, neoliberalism, anti-unionism, substandard food quality, violations of food safety, environmental destruction, racial discrimination, major class-action lawsuits, ownership of private prisons, and much more. The overwhelming profits and capital they have accumulated to make them one of the most powerful multinational corporations in the world are derived from incredible injustices, namely unpaid or underpaid labor from private prisons, unlivable wages, neocolonial relationships that allow them to acquire cheap raw materials from nations of the Global South, substantial gains from military contracts, and others that are too numerous to count. Institutions of higher education across the country have recognized how dangerous Sodexo is and ended business with the corporation, opting for self-service or other companies instead. While these decisions need to be made meticulously because any large food service company will be problematic to some degree, it has become clear through research and empirical data that it does not get much worse than Sodexo, and that just about any change away from the corporation is a good one. By continuing business with a company that has such an extensive corporate crime record, we are providing a monetary endorsement for their increasing exploitation of land, people, and communities throughout the world.
Scripps College prides itself on educating its students to be actively engaged community members. As a women’s college, we have developed a progressive curriculum that exposes students to real-world issues early on in their college education, beginning with Core 1 and continuing with the fantastic programming we have throughout each school year. The speakers, workshops, classes, professors, and panel discussions that promote critical thinking and compassion for oppressed people help facilitate important discussions about the major injustices that we are inherently involved in everyday. These include the pervasiveness of private prisons and wage theft against working class communities, to name a few. We are encouraged to analyze the historical bases of these problems and examine how they have developed within the capitalist economy to become such “natural” parts of our lives. As we begin to learn more and the power imbalances, growing concentration of wealth, and systematic oppression of marginalized communities becomes more and more evident, we are provided with the necessary resources to resist these normalized conditions. This is the time when students mobilize. This is the moment in which students address issues that they are taught to recognize as egregiously wrong.
As a Scripps community, we cannot stand back and allow Sodexo to continue their ruthless practices. We cannot be responsible for supporting what they represent. In its current form, having a contract with Sodexo and paying them to control our dining and facility services means we are investing in the injustices that they carry out in almost every corner of the globe. We are encouraging their growth as one of the largest multinational corporations to ever exist, feeding into their power and allowing them to gain momentum in their imperialist projects. The big picture goal is to put an end to these injustices perpetrated by Sodexo. This is a lofty task, and it will take much more than one school, or even one country, to divest from the corporation. Clearly, this is not what we are asking of Scripps. What we are asking is that we do our part as engaged and critically concerned community members to recognize the exploitation that occurs around us, consider our positionality, analyze our contributions, and strategize ways to combat the oppressive and illegal practices that carry on uninterrupted. We are asking that we take these steps and realize that what is necessary to being an ethically responsible institution is to stop investing in multinational corporations like Sodexo. We are asking that Scripps re-evaluates the lessons taught in the classrooms and our contradicting business decisions. We demand that Scripps terminate our contract with Sodexo and find an alternative option to service our dining and facilities departments.