Why the actions by Harvest Table leadership are condemnable and unacceptable
On Sept 7, the University’s new dining provider Harvest Table abruptly fired Kevintz Merisier, a longtime catering lead, with no warning. In the wake of Merisier’s yet-unexplained dismissal, the Brandeis Leftist Union created a petition demanding his reinstatement and organized a joint student-worker delegation on Sept. 22 to deliver the letter, which garnered over 600 signatures. When the students attempted to deliver the petition to Director of Hospitality Clayton Hargrove, he evaded the group and called Brandeis Police for “police assistance.” Hargrove declined to rehire Merisier on Sept. 27, and Harvest Table representatives have refused to provide statements or interviews to the Justice.
First, this board calls on Harvest Table to rehire Merisier. During the spring semester’s Request for Proposals process, dining worker protection and retention were among students’ primary concerns; that a worker was terminated, apparently without cause, is unacceptable. Boston Local 26, the union that represents Brandeis’ dining and catering teams, prohibits on-the-spot termination. This board is appalled that Harvest Table has not honored union protections and applauds the work that BLU has done to bring Merisier’s situation to the forefront of campus conversation.
Secondly, this board condemns Hargrove’s decision to call campus police when faced with peaceful student protestors. We struggle to understand the cowardice of an executive whose role requires interaction with the student body, and we denounce the violence of calling the police on students and workers, particularly those of color. Although BranPo, to their credit, did not interact with the protestors, Hargrove’s decision to call them was unnecessary and pathetic.
Thirdly, we cannot imagine why neither the University Administration nor Harvest Table has issued a statement in response to last month’s unprecedented events. The dining provider has demonstrated a complete unwillingness to cooperate with student journalists, an unacceptable curtailing of campus media’s investigative function.
Moreover, the campus community expects and deserves better from its administrators. The Justice also reached out to Lois Stanley, executive vice president of operations — the division which oversees dining and Public Safety — with a request for comment about the firing. On Oct. 21, she responded to an email from the Justice with the statement: “This is a personnel matter for which Harvest Table, the employer, is responsible.” Stanley serves the student body and must provide students with an explanation of her division’s lack of intervention in Merisier’s firing. This board is also disappointed by the administration’s failure to condemn Hargrove for calling the police on a peaceful student protest. Less than six months into Harvest Table’s arrival on campus, this is a dangerous and unsatisfactory precedent. Harvest Table’s behavior toward dining workers and students over the past month, and Brandeis administration’s refusal to publicly address these incidents or communicate with students, show a lack of respect toward Brandeis workers and students.