A number of readers have expressed interest in hearing more about the general happenings as well as the fantastic food of Ferry House, the egalitarian vegetarian/vegan co-op in which I reside at Vassar along with 20 of the kindest, most insightful individuals I’ve ever met. To fulfill such readers’ wishes, I thought it fitting to recount on the ol’ blog a recent Ferry event: Professor Dinner. Every semester, the members of Ferry invite one or more of their favorite professors to enjoy a convivial vegan potluck dinner in the Ferry living and dining rooms, as well as to engage in stimulating conversations with the academics they most admire. Rife with a cornucopia of plant-based yummies and enough throught-provoking interactions to blow the roof off of Ferry, this semester’s Professor Dinner proved wildly successful and highly enjoyable. Pictured below is the vast array of dishes on the Professor Dinner buffet table, contributed by Ferry members and professors alike.
To my immense disappointment, the professor I invited to the potluck—fellow vegan, animal rights advocate, Joyce-lover, and blogger—had to cancel at the last minute, but luckily, my dear friend and fellow VARC member Alan had invited another like-minded professor to dinner—Jill Schneiderman from the Earth Science department. Professor Schneiderman shared a troubling story with Alan and I that detailed a social experiment she performed informally on a group of students she planned to take on a week-long venture to the deserts of the American Southwest. In preparation for the trip, Professor Schneiderman had to collect the eating preferences of the participating students so that the desert facility where they would stay could adequately cater to their needs. As a pondrous vegetarian and scientific researcher, Professor Schneiderman decided to tell her students that the facility provided vegetarian meals by default, and that individuals who wanted to eat meat had to request it specially. She then passed around a sheet on which students could denote whether or not they felt it necessary to eat meat on the trip, and to make the facility provide dining options that included meat. To Professor Schneiderman’s surprise, nearly all of the students checked the “Wants to Eat Meat on Trip” box, and displayed their indignance that the facility would dare not serve meat unless specifically asked. The situation reminded me of Melanie Joy’s book—Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows—which discusses how society regards the eating of animals as “normal” and the abstention from eating sentient beings as “deviant.”
While rather disheartening that such a phenomenon would occur on a college campus as progressive and liberal-minded as that of Vassar, the fact that at least a handful of incredibly passionate students and faculty members understand the ethical implications of eating animals and work to spread this awareness throughout campus make me proud to attend Vassar. Additionally, since many of these individuals live in Ferry or often interact with Ferry members, I feel so lucky and honored to reside in a house surrounded by like-minded individuals, which provides me with the strength to interact with those who may not share my viewpoints on veganism and animal rights in a compassionate manner. All hail, Ferry House!
Until next time, Ali.