Compass makes dining alterations after flaws discovered
Hofstra and Compass Dining have corrected the previously mislabeled signs and are working toward maintaining a more inclusive dining experience for Muslim students. Photo courtesy of Jordan Laird/Hofstra Chronicle
After concerns over cross-contamination, mislabeling and misunderstandings of the Halal dietary restrictions earlier this semester, Compass Dining developed a corrective action plan on Monday, Feb. 26, that relocated Halal offerings from the Yo!Bowl self-serve line to the G8 hot entrée station in the Sondra and David S. Mack Student Center.
“It’s a total game changer,” said junior Maryam Quereshi, president of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) and a double major in political science and public policy and public service, of the fact that Hofstra’s Muslim students now have reliable access to Halal meat.
According to Resident District Manager for Compass Dining Richard Maha, after communicating with MSA, the Student Government Association and university administrators about the issues with Halal meat offerings, Compass Dining came up with the resolution.
Maha said, “This new serving location with Halal menu options will help ensure that the integrity of the cuisine is maintained and will also provide signage improvements to more clearly indicate Halal options at the new station.”
According to Maha, Campus Dining has also begun offering beef Halal options in order to add variety to the menu cycle. Additionally, they have introduced international flavors to the Halal meats. The Student Center will also continue to offer Halal hot dogs and hamburgers as options for students.
Quereshi said, “Getting to this point was a struggle and I was very much a part of that. I voiced the lack of trust and reliability I had in campus dining food. But also, now I feel like there’s a sense of belonging. I can go down to the Student Center, grab a piece of chicken or beef and sit with my friends in the main dining hall.”
Zain Farooqui, a sophomore biomedical engineering major and the secretary of MSA, said, “It makes it much easier for me, seeing as how the only meat I eat is Halal and if I doubt it at all then I can’t eat it … I really appreciate that they’ve done this.”
Farooqui especially appreciated that Maha emailed the MSA an apology.
Quereshi said, “Initially, I have to say they were not apologetic and it came off – the way that we perceived it – as being very dismissive of our faith tradition. But they did apologize, they did clear things up.”
Farooqui and Quereshi both agreed that they would like to see the university take Halal options a step further. Quereshi said she would like to see Compass Dining expand Halal options to other dining areas, provide on-the-go Halal options and bring a Halal franchise on campus.
Maha said, “We are committed to further developing our relationship with Hofstra’s Muslim community and will continue to brainstorm more culinary varieties, in partnership with the Muslim Student Association, Student Government Association and the Division of Student Affairs.”
Quereshi explained that without the pressure the MSA placed on the university to make appropriate adjustments, these issues might have never been resolved.
“This was a club effort on our parts to be able to do this. I think campus dining needs to make sure that they, without the MSA, can continue to preserve this option on campus,” Quereshi said. “People who don’t observe strict diets see Hofstra offering a huge variety but it’s different when you can’t eat most of it.”
She said the Muslim student population is very excited, and she has even noticed some members of the MSA posting celebratory pictures of the Halal Student Center food.