Cagey Issue. Eggscellent bad pun potential.

A motion requesting that food outlets on campus stop using factory-farmed products has been included as part of the OUSA referendum, which has been open for voting since May 23 and closes on June 2.

However, some students have expressed doubts about whether the motion, ostensibly supported by most students, will result in any substantive changes in food policy on campus, as well as questioning the appropriateness of using OUSA as a vehicle for such change.
Though many students support the use of free-range products, some are sceptical whether the referendum will change anything in this regard. Second year Geology and French student Harris Anderson asked if the motion will really “accomplish anything.”
Others questioned whether this is simply a case of animal welfare groups pushing their agenda via OUSA. Kurt Purdon, a second year Economics and Business student, stated that he saw the referendum question as “animal rights groups using OUSA as a tool to advance their cause”.
However, the Student Animal Legal Defence Fund (SALDF) on campus disputed this, noting the “overwhelming student concern about the sale of cruelly-produced factory farmed products on campus.” They said this was evidenced by the several hundred signatures collected from students for their free-range petition. SALDF stated they recognised that whilst the motion was not binding on decision-makers, they hoped students would appreciate the importance of voting for it, as the numbers of students voting would be “the main factor management will base their decision on”.
Although the university has no formal position on the matter, they are currently investigating options, with key considerations being “product availability, cost and whether customers would be prepared to pay an increased price for these products.”
Education Officer Katie Reid indicated that OUSA would be unlikely to subsidise the cost of such free-range products, also noting that OUSA has “no influence at all on what people who run [the food union] do.” In this way Reid saw OUSA as acting as more of a “support” for this cause, rather than a “driving force.” However, she went on to note that this is at least a “discussion we should be having.” As to whether further action from students could accomplish the feat of free-range on campus, Reid stated that “students can absolutely achieve that if that’s what they want to achieve...the companies have to listen. It’s not easy, but it’s achievable.”
The background statement in the referendum discusses the practice of factory farming, as well as noting that Food Management at Otago has already indicated support for such a transition. It also notes the success of Canterbury University in being “cage-free” since 2008.
Free-range eggs typically cost up to twice as much as their factory farmed counterparts, with chicken costing approximately a quarter to a third of the cost more. The university provided no comment as to whether it would be willing to subsidise these costs increases.
Voting for the referendum closes on June 2.
Posted 3:11am Wednesday 6th July 2011 by Kari Schmidt.