U of I sour on grapes



CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP)—Grapes are off the menu at University of Illinois dining halls.

The fruit were removed in November after the student-run Residence Hall Association endorsed a grape boycott sponsored by the United Farm Workers union.

‘‘We respect their request,’‘ food service director Maria Ramos said Friday. ‘‘This is home to them.’‘

The Residence Hall Association helps govern campus housing, which holds 8,600 students. President Ryan Majeres, a sophomore from Decatur, said the anti-grape resolution was presented by student environmentalists.

‘‘We support the United Farm Workers union and we are concerned for the health and safety of students on campus. … We believe that the University of Illinois should be an environmentally and socially just institution,’‘ the association said.

The union and California table-grape growers have fought for years over pesticides and collective bargaining. United Farm Workers does not have labor contracts with the industry.

A spokesman for a coalition of California growers said the industry was not allowed to tell its side of the story to the university.

‘‘We contacted the food service department. They said it was too late,’‘ said spokesman Adan Ortega. ‘‘There’s never been an open forum.’‘

Since the domestic grape season runs from May through October, any grapes consumed during the traditional academic year probably come from Chile, he said.

Ramos said she had no information on campus grape consumption or the grapes’ origin. She called the boycott ‘‘weird’‘ but said she defers to the wishes of students.

‘‘They’re the ones paying room and board,’‘ she said.

The grapes will be reinstated during the 1994-95 academic year unless the Residence Hall Association approves another resolution. The group plans to bring anti-grape speakers to campus and distribute information at each dining hall.