Undocumented students cannot share in Food & Wine’s success

By Editorial Board

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Every year local celebrities, vendors and residents come together in the name of food, wine and the opportunity to offer culinary arts students a chance to travel the world at the annual Food and Wine Event, held on Sunday.

But what serves as an opportunity for many, is just another mandatory classroom assignment for others.

Undocumented students, enrolled in culinary arts, aren’t afforded the luxury of traveling the world with the prospect of returning home no matter how hard they work.

Sure, immigrants can be granted a passport in the name of their country of origin, but when they try to travel back to the U.S., they are no longer granted access home.

America totally rejects these people, simply for working hard, or in this case, learning to work hard.

To be a culinary arts student, documented or not, the cost of traversing a semester through the program can be daunting.

According to participants in the program, the cost of basic necessities, which the students provide themselves, can reach upward of $500.

A professional knife set is $150, coupled with the two basic books students use, “Serve Safe” and “Professional Cooking,” which cost about $120 each, the stress of working while undocumented to pay for school can seem relentless.

Students even have to purchase their own $30 chef coat.

Also, seven classes in the culinary arts program are eight units or more. At $46 per unit that’s $368 for one class.

If the undocumented students in the program can’t access funding specifically earmarked for students in the study abroad trip, money should be set aside for them to put toward their overall culinary education.

With the hard work and hands-on experience students gain in the program, it’s only right that students find ways to monetize their productivity.

However, it’s unfair and demoralizing to have undocumented students work toward a goal that everyone cannot equally achieve, and without an equitable substitute, the trip seems less impressive.

If this trend continues, events on campus will have the same feel as other American endeavors. They will appear as large-scale projects, silently supported by undocumented workers who have no way to benefit from the fruits of their labor.

Is that what this campus is supposed to represent?

Who is supposed to step up and create the change these students need?

The students themselves shouldn’t be expected to shoulder this burden and most of the people who frequent Pronto, or the Aqua Terra Grill, don’t realize the situation that some of the students endure.

At every culinary department register, a small donation box is displayed so patrons can leave contributions to students attending the trip abroad.

Instead of leaving tips, people should deposit a note in the box telling culinary arts department Chairperson Nader Sharks to find innovative ways to support his undocumented students.

Given how large the funding generated by the Food and Wine Event has grown over the past few years, now totaling roughly $90,000 a year, it seems an intervention is long overdue.

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