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This Week in NMH History 2016-2017         #22

45 Years Ago

Hurrah for NMH's very own Dining Services! The food here truly is wonderful, creative and plentiful.  Yet more than that, everyone in Dining Services is a vital member of our school community. It was not ever thus. For a period of time, dining services were outsourced to ARA (American Restaurant Associates), a for-profit corporation. The results were most unhappy. Witness the outcry in the following piece from a short-lived alternative newspaper, then find your favorite folks in Alumni Hall and thank them.

from The Moody Messenger, vol. II, no. 5, p. 2-3. [February 1972]

Dwight’s Delights: Dump ARA

We can change this school to our heart’s delights (but not to Dwight’s), but what of that old and justly revered institution will remain when the fine old clocks shine neon, and our stoic tastefulness is replaced by the ostentatious, semi-mod, psychedelic, pseudo-freaked-out splash dash colors. There is no advantage to such gaudy displays for they impress no one, and as for atmosphere, we have left barracks behind, but do we now turn to a circus?
ARA is a part of the revolution that is sucking education from NMH, and is instead instilling an inescapable commercialism. Comfortable little conveniences are provided by this company, but our inconveniences of the past made us stronger and more appreciative of the natural and simple aspects of this school. There is being taken from us daily the love of rustic scenery we once felt. Few take walks in the snow, or visit the town; everything is right here for buying. Coca-Cola; it’s the real thing! There seems little point in coming to a school in beautiful New England, far from civilization, only to find ourselves caught in a most insidious and unfortunate “Tourist Trap.”
…Education, our existence here, is not a quantity to be bartered by ad-men from New York, for if the school cannot sell itself, but must continually cater to fads and trends, then of what value is it at all? We are not PeptoBismol or Pepsi trying to appeal to public opinion with slogans and gimmicks. For if we are, $3,750 is too high a price to pay. For if we are, NMH is cheap and second rate, no matter how high or low our tuition, or how large the freshman class.
It would seem we owe…ARA [nothing], so let them finish out the year, and then dump…them. For all their efficiency and sanitary modes of operation, they are not part of this school and they could leave without being missed. [For now] [w]e snicker at the obvious appeals used in mass advertising but allow ourselves to be sucked into the same trap. There is no integrity left at NMH, the basest is the best, the best is forsaken.
These seeds were sown far in the past, but their blighted crop is only now being harvested. It is all perhaps irrevocable, and perhaps the barbarians will invade and let us fall. Let us not, at least, forget the principles which Dwight L. Moody loved, which we should not have the temerity to negate. The work program is fundamental to this place, but it is always work that is not Paid. It should not be paid for our democratic sense forbids it. Therefore, in all good conscience, the administration must firmly demand that ARA cease hiring NMH students to work for them. This is not an inconsequential, but a vital imperative; we cannot and must not allow our students to serve in a money earning capacity while in attendance at Northfield Mount Hermon School. Such a state of affairs within the community neglects the equalizing value of the work program, and makes our long maintained system of generous scholarships worth no more than nothing. Who so needs spending money that they must resort to working at the Snack Bar during free hours? If the destitution which some must endure is so great, the solution is more scholarship aid, not a “work your way through school” system of indentured labor…Has ARA looked into anything other than solely lucrative exploits? They are making their buck, they have no need (or desire) to contribute anything but poor taste to this institution.
There must be no more paid student labor under the sponsorship of ARA. But beyond this, if at all humanly possible, we must rid ourselves of this barnacle which we have affixed to ourselves. The leech is now demanding our heart’s blood, we see it is no cure. Let us seek a new solution to fiscal insolvency…times are getting economically better, let us remove the short-range solution, the interloper, from our community post-haste and above our hallowed gates: Northfield Mount Hermon School – those not subscribing to the above are advised – KEEP OUT!