Over the years, Virginia Tech has earned a reputation for excellence in facilitation, promotion and celebration of diversity on its campus. Even though we have come a long way in celebrating our differences, there are still many initiatives that could be taken to further facilitate this practice.
Last week while having lunch in Owens Dining Hall, I was reminded of a potential initiative that is of great importance to the Muslim community of Blacksburg: the introduction of a ‘halal meat’ dining option.
Virginia Tech has a substantial Muslim population, many of whom cannot eat meat that is not prepared in a prescribed religious manner. This ‘halal meat’ follows the same principal as Kosher meat and not surprisingly, Kosher and halal meat share similar slaughtering techniques.
For Muslim students living on campus, not having a Halal meat option spells tremendous inconvenience and frustration. They are required to sign up for an on-campus meal plan, but they have very limited dining options across different dining halls. Many Muslim student groups have been trying to campaign to get some sort of limited halal meat option on the meal plan, but their efforts have fallen on deaf ears.
Initially, the demand of a halal meat option may seem a touch unfair, but it is important to keep in mind that the dining services provides a Kosher option to its students. Since dining services has already taken up the idea of reaching out to different students by offering them specific dining options, it only makes sense for them to offer some sort of halal meat option.
According to a survey conducted by IFANCA (Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America,) around 12 percent of colleges now offer some sort of a limited halal meat option on their meal plan. As a pioneer in the university dining services industry, it is rather embarrassing that we still have no such option for our students.
The cost of implementing a partial or limited halal meat option would be minimal, as there are innumerable wholesale suppliers that supply the meat at competitive prices.
In fact, the economics of such a venture make it a profitable prospect because there is such a huge demand all over Blacksburg for halal meat with only two restaurants in town carrying this option.
Above everything, it is important to continue the tradition of promoting diversity and being inclusive. Having a halal meat option on the meal plan would not only be fitting for one of the top dining programs in the nation, but will fall perfectly in line with our university’s beliefs regarding diversity.