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Hunger Banquet sends wrong message

November 17, 2005 Articles, Letters

By Daily Princetonian Staff

Published: Thursday, November 17th, 2005

Hunger Banquet sends wrong message

Regarding ‘Lobster, steak and plain white rice’ (Tuesday, November 15, 2005):

This article gave me an unsettling feeling in my stomach.  As a person who ate “plain white rice” for many years in the parlance of the article (I ate chicken bones and rotten vegetables tossed away by local grocers), I must admit I felt uneasy about how the SVC chose to raise awareness of this matter.  For one, I am not sure how much awareness is really brought to the problem, and surely empathy is not on the menu as participants know that after the meal they can resume with their regular lives.  I certainly didn’t have the option of walking away from the “plain white rice” dinner when I was growing up in poverty.  Secondly, one of the hardships of eating “plain white rice” is the loss of dignity that cannot be captured in a smug gesture.  Although the event was rooted in good intentions, as a person with a perspective growing up in poverty I found it condescending and bordering on mocking, especially given that this is the same school that hosted Ralph Lauren at an eating club several days earlier.

Finally, a question to ask the university:  Given the universal support by all sides to help people from impoverished backgrounds to succeed, why has Princeton (and other universities for that matter) not switched to affirmative action that is income-based?  This is a real step to alleviate hunger and poverty:  Educated people don’t need the affluent to feel sorry for them; they can eat whatever they like.

Kai Chan GS




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