When prestigious Duke University in North Carolina opened its expensively renovated West Union for students this semester, it advertised the many pains it took to be socially conscious.
With several building features specifically made to be green, West Union also encourages students to reuse water bottles instead of disposable cups. The university advertises “the sights, sounds and aromas of authentic meals being prepared right in front of you by local vendors.” Many of the offerings are locally sourced, but West Union also brings in guest chefs, including high-profile celebrity chefs. Students can even get cooking lessons.
Despite the pains Duke took, some spoiled students still aren’t satisfied.
“The Latinx community is hardly represented in West Union,” complained Samantha Garza, a junior and the co-president of Mi Gente, a Latin American student organization. “We have no representation of either breakfast or dinner, and the pop-up vendor serves only tacos, burritos and bowls—the most generic Mexican food available.”
According to the Duke Chronicle, the university has taken pains to ensure there are Latin American food offerings. Devil’s Krafthouse, an on-campus restaurant, has several such menu items, and Chef’s Kitchen, a pop-up restaurant, serves Mexican food every day.
Duke also provides a wide variety of cultural cuisines, from Italian to Korean food, from Indian to Thai, with food stations operated by local restaurant. Students can also visit a crepe station, a sushi bar, and even a vegan line.
In addition to wanting more Latin American food, members of the student organization Mi Gente also say too few vendors are Hispanic.
“If West Union is meant to represent Durham as it claims it is, it does so inaccurately,” Jorge Arrendondo, a junior, told the Duke Chronicle. “There is a huge Latinx population within Durham, and while vendors like Farmstead bring in local food from the community, there are no Latin American vendors to be able to support Durham Latinx food providers in a similar way.”
A spokeswoman for Duke declined to comment about Mi Gente’s complaints.