Cal Students Hold Valentine's Day-Themed Protest Against University Sourcing from Factory Farms
Photos: Leon Kunstenaar / Pro Bono PhotoFEBRUARY 10, BERKELEY, CA - Members of the student organization Students with Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) at Berkeley gathered at Sproul Plaza on Friday with giant, paper broken hearts and other visuals to call on the university to “break up with” Tyson Foods and other factory farm suppliers. The students marched through campus, circling Memorial Glade, chanting “UC Berkeley, drop factory farms.” They stopped outside of Golden Bear Cafe to deliver speeches. Some students taped 100+ paper hearts that read “Break up with factory farms” to the glass walls of Golden Bear Cafe. Students say that the practices of Tyson, Hormel, and other suppliers used by Cal Dining go against the values the university claims to uphold.
Student club president Zoe Rosenberg says UC Berkeley is willfully misleading students and the public in claiming to prioritize socially responsible companies while sourcing meat from Tyson Foods. The agribusiness titan is the world’s largest poultry producer, and has long been criticized for its treatment of animals, as well as its workers and the environment.In a May 2021 meeting of UC Berkeley students, including Rosenberg, Chancellor Carol Christ, and Executive Director of Dining Chris Henning, Henning rejected the notion that Tyson engages in factory farming, touting the company’s use of “small” family farms. But students say Henning’s claims are at odds with the reality of Tyson’s operations. Following this meeting, Rosenberg conducted an undercover investigation at a Tyson-owned farm and found massive sheds filled with chickens, many of whom were severely ill, dying, or already dead.
According to Rosenberg, “Tyson Foods is a representation of everything wrong with the meat industry. They’re the #1 water polluter in agribusiness, they are ranked 5 out of all US companies for most workers injured on the job, and myself and many others have repeatedly exposed horrendous animal cruelty at their farms and slaughterhouses.”
Students say productive dialogue with the university has broken down, causing them to take action themselves as a last resort.
Friday’s demonstration is just the latest event in a series of events aimed at ending the university’s practice of sourcing from factory farms.
August 2020: A UCB student investigation of Seaboard Foods, a UCB pork supplier, and subsequent demonstration , led to the university dropping the company as a supplier.
April 2021: UCB students locked themselves in place at Crossroads dining facility, resulting in the meeting with Chancellor Christ and Director Henning.
- August 2021: Following the release of an investigation revealing chickens starving and unable to walk or even stand at a factory farm owned by UCB-supplier Tyson Foods, students dyed the Sproul Plaza fountain red, and poured gallons of fake blood down the steps of Sproul Hall.
“Students shouldn’t have to beg administrators for honesty and transparency, something which they tout on their website, yet our emails, phone calls and demonstrations have been ignored for the past year now,” said Rosenberg. “Chancellor Christ’s evasive and dishonest conduct is shameful.”
The students’ anti-factory farming campaign cites investigations by DxE and other groups which have repeatedly shown systemic animal cruelty at factory farms such as Hormel and Tyson. The public is encouraged to support their efforts by signing their petition at DxE.io/UCB.
Investigators with Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) enter farms, slaughterhouses, and other agricultural facilities to document abuses, and to rescue sick and injured animals. DxE’s investigatory work has been featured in The New York Times , ABC Nightline , and a brutal mass pig killing exposé. DxE activists have been subjected to FBI raids and felony prosecutions for their investigative work. The group led the 2019 grassroots effort to ban fur products in California and the 2021 effort to transition Berkeley city purchases to 100% plant based foods . Visit DxE on Facebook, Twitter and at directactioneverywhere.com
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