Ithaca College Quarterly

Dining Services Decision Keeps Sodexho Marriott

On March 19, the deadline set in the administration’s agreement with the Young Democratic Socialists, President Peggy Williams announced that the College would continue its contract with food services provider Sodexho Marriott Services.

YDS mounted a campaign last fall to oust SMS from campus, citing investments made by its parent company, Sodexho Alliance, in Corrections Corporation of America, a private prison firm. The YDS efforts culminated in a 34-hour sit-in in the admissions office on December 5-6, after which YDS and President Williams agreed that the College would examine the Sodexho situation in depth and decide by March 19 whether or not to remain with SMS.

During the information-gathering process, the College consulted Michael Jacobson, professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York, and John Cornyn of the Cornyn Fasano Group, a food service management consulting firm. Around this time Sodexho announced intentions to divest itself of its stock in CCA. President Williams wrote to Pierre Bellon, chair and CEO of Sodexho Alliance, apprising him of the protests on campus and requesting details of Sodexho’s divestiture plans. The concerns of YDS were brought before the board of trustees, and the administration sponsored a campus-wide forum to discuss Sodexho and private prisons.

After much deliberation, President Williams informed the campus that Sodexho would stay. She said, "Although this conclusion was not reached easily, I believe it is in the best interests of Ithaca College as a whole." She noted that the College will implement more community service activities in the area of social justice and will convene a faculty panel to "discuss (1) ways to incorporate our learning on [social justice and private prisons] into the curriculum and (2) opportunities through special courses, independent study, or other mechanisms for students to pursue their interests in social justice and the inequities of the criminal justice system." In spite of the decision, YDS students say they will continue efforts to remove Sodexho.

Complete texts are available at the Sodexho decision website. next