Moral Bankruptcy of Forced Fasting

Don't get me wrong...I really enjoy being at King's College and understand that this school is a Catholic institution. Some policies, though, seem to go against the Catholic tradition, undermine non-Catholics, and fail to acknowledge non-Catholics. I don't, of course, want to start a war of tradition against the college by any means, but want to civilly discuss various objections to the policy of no served meat products on Lenten Fridays. Personally, I don't care about being forced to abstain from meat products on Fridays, but I have heard many students and faculty members voice objections, sighs of disgust, and general disagreement.

I worked in various King's College eateries during my stay at King's College and this policy is beyond hysterical - I liken it to a hostage situation. Workers at the various establishments must take ALL of the meat products and LOCK them in the rear coolers so they aren't even in the preparation areas! Workers had to request a key to open the coolers which is often needed during busy meal times. I inquired about this and the reasoning was that the administration mandated it. Meat was to be taken away from the prep areas so that workers can't "sneak meat."

In one location, Leo's on Mane, cooks prepare food "on the line" in which all of the food items are stored. If a cook opens a drawer, he/she can access a hamburger, ham, turkey, etc. During the Lenten Fridays, employees must remove ALL of the meat from the serving areas. This process is very time consuming, takes up great space in the back cooler, and is very silly. Meat's not to be served, but that's not enough...it has to be taken away from the staging area.

This position that King's College takes on serving no meat products during Lenten Fridays is morally bankrupt for several reasons.

What good is fasting if it is forced?
Students who live in residence halls are forced to purchase meal plans, thus they eat at college dining locations. Much more often than not, for proximity and financial reasons, students will eat at the college dining facilities. Regardless of the choice to fast, all students who eat on campus will have no choice in the matter - they will not be able to order meat products. The student has no choice in this matter regardless of religious affiliation or willingness to fast. This fasting is not voluntary by any means.

Imagine if I were to ask you to abstain from eating ostrich meat and you have no access to ostrich meat whatsoever. This, just like the above situation, is a forced fast that has no virtue.

Shouldn't fasting include "resisting temptation?"
If the fasting were really fasting, the students would be able to order meat, be presented with the option, and still have decent non-meat alternatives. If the student has no choice but to eat non-meat products, there is no temptation or chance to falter whatsoever.

Why must all non-Catholics fast?
King's College claims to be a pluralistic college where people of all faiths, no faiths, diverse backgrounds, and gender are welcome.

King's College Mission Statement:
King's College welcomes students from diverse backgrounds and strives to educate them in a community committed to academic excellence, mutual respect, and social responsibility.

The Office of College Diversity:

Works toward promoting and incorporating an appreciation for the multicultural nature of our society into every aspect of campus life.

Instead of acknowledging that many students and faculty members are
  • Not catholic
  • Catholic, but not "fasters"
  • Catholics who disagree with forced fasting, but rather want the virtue of choosing not to eat meat,

King's College subjects every student and faculty member to be a part of the Lenten tradition while dining at campus restaurants through a forced fasting.

Not all Catholics want to fast.

Some Catholics may simply choose not the follow the Lenten tradition and continue their diets normally. Many Catholics are "religious moderates" who don't all agree on beliefs and traditions...so why would the college suppose that all Catholics want to fast?


Possible Objections:

But it's a Catholic College!

Great, but this doesn't mean that they should force all people who visit campus dining locations into following the Lenten tradition. King's College emphasizes acceptance of everyone, but is inconsistent when their policies when restrictions like this occur. King's College is missing the point of fasting being a choice rather than a forced policy. There is no virtue in fasting if you don't even have the option to order meat products.

But people can go to nearby restaurants and order meat!

For financial and practical reasons, students almost certainly will not skip meals and spend money at local restaurants. Students "pre-pay" for meal plans and use their meal plan to eat on campus. Also, why should people have to go to other dining locations to order meat when they could get it right here at King's College! If people do want meat, they have to spend extra time and money to go elsewhere. If you have a pre-paid meal-plan or the choice to spend money elsewhere, the meal plan is an obvious choice. The mere "temptation" of meat at local restaurants does not offset the idea that King's College fails to serve meat on Fridays and Ash Wednesday.