Picture this: it’s another Tuesday night, and I’m slowly dragging myself out of biology lab to go eat before a long night of studying in the stacks. As a practicing Muslim that only eats halal foods, my dining choices are already greatly limited. In fact, the only meat option available to me at the Dobbs Common Table (DCT) is one dish at the Fire and Spice station. While I do appreciate the fact that Emory offers a halal option, it seems unfair that I am restricted to only one dish and one type of food whenever I want to eat meat. While vegetarian and vegan options are available, I often end up hungry in the middle of the night, wishing I had found something more substantial to eat before I went to sleep. Emory must do more to offer a greater selection of halal, kosher and vegetarian options to sufficiently meet the needs of students with specialized diets.
As a freshman representative for the Emory Muslim Student Association (MSA), I am part of a community that works to make campus life easier for practicing Muslim students. At our Town Hall earlier this semester, an overwhelming number of students expressed concerns over the dining hall’s limited halal options. Despite the clear needs of so many students, there seems to be no real urgency by the Emory administration to put these plans into action. I’ve heard multiple upperclassmen say that they’ve given up on pushing for any sort of reform because they feel the administration does not understand the amount of people that this issue directly affects. If the DCT can have an entire section for kosher and vegan foods, why can’t there be one specifically for halal foods?
While stations may exist in the DCT for students who only eat kosher and vegan foods, the options available for students that only eat halal meats remain quite limited. All students at Emory with dietary restrictions deserve ample options for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Instead of allotting one specific section of the DCT to go toward halal options, Emory Dining Services work to provide halal options that aren’t solely Indian dishes. Whether or not a student follows such Islamic practices such as eating halal meat isn’t an issue, so if the staff added halal meat to the stir-fry one day or to the pizza the next, this change wouldn’t have a drastic impact on the operations of the DCT or students without dietary restrictions.
Additionally, many Muslims on Emory’s campus fast during Ramadan, which will fall in the months of April and May this upcoming year. A typical fast during Ramadan consists of a meal called Sahoor before sunrise and a meal called Iftaar at sundown. In between sunrise and sunset, Muslims who fast are not allowed to eat or drink anything. More often than not, Suhoor and Iftaar take place at times when the DCT is not open, resulting in limited food options for students fasting on that particular day. In light of this, the DCT should offer a system that allows meal swipes during that month to be converted into Dooley Dollars so that students can buy food from Cox Hall for Iftaar after 8 p.m. when most DCT stations typically close or so that students can stock up on breakfast foods from the Eagle Emporium in the Emory Student Center. This would allow students to make use of any leftover meal swipes during the semester and ensure that Muslims on campus have a relatively easy way to plan out their meals during the stressful month, with exams occurring around the same time as Ramadan.
The DCT has many perks: alternating stations, nice brunch options and ample healthy dishes. Everyone can agree that the new dining hall is much better than the DUC-ling. However, there are still significant improvements the administration can make. In order to demonstrate that it values its students, the administration must make dining options more accommodating to diverse religious beliefs.
Sara Khan (23C) is from Fairfax. Va.