One way for ASU to end the perpetuation of harm toward vulnerable populations is by ending business ties with food-service provider Aramark.
The multi-billion dollar corporation’s services are widespread on ASU campuses: in the dining halls, convenience stores like the POD and many on-campus restaurants. Beyond working with universities, Aramark also provides food in prisons and jails.
Students demand that the University cancels its contract with the company. A petition of students demanding the University cancels its contract with the company was created by Tori Vandekop, a senior studying communication. The petition has over 1,300 signatures as of Tuesday.
Looking at the company’s misdeeds, this course of action is justified.
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One issue with Aramark is that it fuels the prison-industrial complex. This term refers to both privately-owned prisons and corporations providing services in prisons and financially benefitting from people’s imprisonment.
The prison-industrial complex presents a serious problem.
“The intersection of capital accumulation and mass incarceration creates a perverse incentive for incarceration,” said Richard Glover, a graduate student studying justice studies and adjunct faculty member at School of Social Transformation.
While companies like Aramark are not the root cause of mass incarceration, Glover said when businesses use prison labor or provide services in prisons, they are invested in perpetuating incarceration.
"That means all of these companies have an interest in seeing prisons remain full,” he said.
This leads businesses that drive the prison-industrial complex to stifle any efforts to decrease the swelling of prisons.
“The past 40 years or so of privatization, deregulation and mass incarceration as a cultural, social and political practice have created a system wherein profit is tied to punishment," Glover said. "Any effort to reduce mass incarceration will be met with resistance by powerful industries who have built significant chunks of their businesses on this model."