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Liberal Arts Students Say Their Bad College Food Is "Cultural Appropriation"

General Tso would not be impressed with this chicken, apparently.

Posted on December 19, 2015, at 4:23 p.m. ET

Following an attempt from Campus Dining Services to "diversify" their menu, students at Ohio's premier liberal arts school, Oberlin College, have called many of the Asian dishes "culturally appropriative."

Tony Dejak / AP

The complaints began after a freshman from Vietnam named Diep Nguyen told the Oberlin Review last month how disappointed she was to find that what campus dining claimed to be a traditional Banh Mi Vietnamese sandwich was, in fact, just a sandwich.

"It was ridiculous," Nguyen said of the pulled pork and cole slaw on ciabatta sandwich that dining services company Bon Apétit. "How could they just throw out something completely different and label it as another country's traditional food?"

Nguyen was not the only one to notice what the Review called a "blurring of the line between culinary diversity and cultural appropriation," particularly when it comes to Asian cuisine.

A sophomore from China named Prudence Hiu-Ying was equally taken aback by Bon Appétit's attempt at General Tso's chicken, which appeared to have been steamed instead of fried. The dish also appeared to have a sauce that Hiu-Ying said was not ginger-garlic soy, though she said she did not try it herself.

But the students' real outrage appeared to be over their dining hall's sushi bar, which the campus newspaper called the "pinnacle" of what many students believe is "a culturally appropriative sustenance system."

Marco Ficili / Getty Images

Tomoyo Joshi, a junior from Japan, told the Review that she found the poor quality of the fish and the badly cooked rice "disrespectful."

A few of the less incensed students said they appreciated Bon Appétit was making an effort to vary the food's flavors, but perhaps dining services should do some cultural research on the meals they are making before serving them.

Others recommended Bon Appétit meet with cultural student organizations of the same nationality as the dishes they are serving to ensure they are not offending anyone.

Director of Oberlin Dining Services Michelle Gross told the Review that Bon Appétit did not mean to be disrespectful while serving the students sushi. She added that they were considering abandoning names for the dishes, and instead simply describing their ingredients.

When news of the students' outrage over the potentially offensive food reached the outside world this weekend, many did not quite know what to do with the information. Some thought the story to be fake.

That Oberlin thing has to be a hoax. A very funny hoax.

Oberlin College is actually an elaborate project by The Onion, right?

Brb enrolling in Oberlin's MA in trolling

Others affectionately – or not so affectionately – shook their heads at the famously progressive school's complaints.

We’re making fun of college kids at Oberlin for what now?

Good news for Oberlin students - the Banh Mi at the cafeteria has been renamed, now it's just called "a shitty sandwich"

But some were more sympathetic to the students' woes.

Mock Oberlin all you want, still: cole slaw in a bánh mì, even a fake one? Eef.

Those kids from Oberlin have a point. It's sushi, not mayonnaise sandwiches we're dealing with. Sushi is supposed to taste good and not bad.

  1. What do you think?

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What do you think?
    vote votes
    Food is important to many people's cultures and that should be respected.
    vote votes
    This has to be a joke.
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    I think we might be in need of a wah-mbulance.
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    Tbh, couldn't care less.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.