NYU Criticized for Racially Insensitive Menu Items

One of the NYU dining halls created new menu items to observe Black History Month. Unfortunately, the items reinforced racial stereotypes and weren't well received, according to a New York Times report:

"Barbecue ribs, corn bread, collard greens, and two beverages with racist connotations: Kool-Aid and watermelon-flavored water."

After a sophomore, Nia Harris, complained about the menu and didn't get a satisfying response, she wrote an email calling the decision "racially insensitive" and "just ignorant." She described her perspective and experience in a Facebook post:


Harris seems more concerned about the failed response than the initial decision to create the menu. Clearly, staff members could have handled this situation differently.

Later, the university did respond, including statements from Aramark to which dining at NYU is outsourced.


  • Describe Harris's point of view. What were the university's missteps in this situation? Why do you think Harris didn't get a better response?
  • Assess the university's response. They blame Aramark. Is that appropriate in this case? Why or why not?
  • Now assess Aramark's two statements. How well does the company address the criticism?