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Go trayless despite inconvenience

| Wednesday, November 4, 2015

In regards to last Thursday’s Tray Inconvenient Day, there was some grumbling among students on social media platforms arguing that taking away the trays was more than inconvenient — it was an infringement on students’ rights. Some conversations noted that the high cost of room and board should guarantee the use of trays. Others objected to the idea of an environmentally sustainable agenda being forced upon students. The underpinning of all these arguments was that a right was being denied to students and it should not be within the scope of the University’s power to remove it.

However, we would like to speak on behalf of the majority of students who pleasantly cooperated with the experiment by addressing some of the concerns raised and encourage everyone to make going trayless a more regular occurrence.

Seeing the issues of resource and energy overconsumption being addressed campus-wide exciting. It has a lot of potential for good not only on an environmental impact level but also on an educational level. One of the major pushbacks we’ve encountered regarding sustainability issues involves a lack of knowledge on the subject. Discussing these issues (or holding thought-provoking events like Tray Inconvenient Day) tends to bring to light the facts concerning the subject.

The study of sustainability involves the relationships between the environment, the economy and the population. One of the main reasons Tray Inconvenient Day is a great idea is that it encompasses all of what sustainability is about.

A few weeks ago, Fr. Jenkins announced new University energy goals, including eliminating coal use and opting for more sustainable energy alternatives. Fewer trays in the dining halls means less hot water, chemicals and energy being used to wash them — and less environmental degradation caused by the University and you. Fewer trays also means less food waste, which in addition to being a social injustice is just plain expensive.

We would be remiss to not include Pope Francis’s most recent encyclical, “Laudato Si.’” Pope Francis encourages all citizens of the world (not just Catholics) to ensure the survival of our communal home. His passionate analysis of environmental issues and each person’s duty to care for this planet should hit home at Notre Dame of all places. And Pope Francis makes it clear that securing environmental sustainability requires a serious conversion, and an ability to be vulnerable to inconvenience. Thus, none of us should really be all that concerned about a small inconvenience when there are clear benefits to going trayless.

Call us tree huggers. Call us hippies. Ask any of our friends and they’ll tell you how enthusiastic we are about sustainability. But you should be too. As a university, Notre Dame has a proud history of fearlessly confronting social justice issues. Evidenced by the number of clubs, events and courses that focus on improving the lives of those in poverty, both local and international, Notre Dame students tend to feel passionately about engaging in various forms of social justice movements. Fundraising and educational initiatives are meant to result in action, though, so if we truly care about issues like poverty, minority rights, education and everything else Catholic Social Teaching exhorts us to advocate for, it is imperative to make changes in our own lives — even when inconvenient — for the good of all.

Bon apetit,

Rachel Ganson

Maria Sasso

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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