Update 04/13/2021: This article has been updated to include information from another DxE press release.
Early Monday morning, three UC Berkeley students associated with animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere, or DxE, locked themselves inside of Crossroads Dining Hall with bicycle locks around their necks to demand that UC Berkeley “drop factory farms” as Cal Dining suppliers.
According to a press release from DxE Monday, 10 to 20 affiliates marched just outside the hall holding banners, giving speeches and painting a mural on the sidewalk that read “Drop Factory Farms.” Due to the fact that those inside the hall would not leave until they either reached an agreement with campus or were forcibly removed, students were unable to enter the building to pick up meals.
Campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff noted that students were still able to pick up to-go meals outside of Crossroads in the afternoon; however, dinner was not served and students were directed to pick up meals from other locations.
The protest follows campus’ decision to remove Seaboard Foods from its list of suppliers last August, a company that DxE alleged involves “systemic animal cruelty” and “widespread infections.”
“Students say they’re appreciative that the university took that step, but say it’s hypocritical that they’re still serving students products sourced from other companies which have similarly grim records on animal welfare,” the press release reads. “They say attempts at productive dialogue with the university have broken down, causing them to take this action as a last resort.”
The release adds that DxE demanded that campus drop other companies including Hormel, Tyson Foods and Harris Ranch, which Ratliff said campus plans to replace in fall 2021.
Ratliff added that campus has been in communication with students concerned about Cal Dining’s meat suppliers in recent months and that they have additionally dropped Diestel Turkey Ranch as a supplier.
“We have also proactively reviewed the meat products and sustainability portfolio information from our remaining suppliers to ensure alignment with the University of California Office of the President sustainability criteria,” Ratliff said in an email. “We will only work with suppliers who meet halal and kosher requirements and/or whose animal welfare methods are in alignment with best practices and will discontinue our relationship with any supplier if they fail to live up to these standards.”
After more than 11 hours of protest, those locked inside the entrance area of Crossroads — students Zoe Rosenberg, Erica Wilson and Suzannah Smith — agreed to leave when they were promised a meeting with Chancellor Carol Christ in the coming weeks, according to another DxE press release Tuesday.
Ratliff added that operations at Crossroads have once again resumed.
Check back for updates.