Cultural club forced to compromise for event
By Marshall Bellamy
An agreement between the Hindu Students' Association and Great Hall Catering will allow outside catering for the HSA's upcoming event, despite rules which disallow this in The Great Hall.
Initially the HSA was told they were not allowed to have outside catering for their event in The Great Hall, said Ruchi Bhalla, president of the HSA.
The HSA hoped to prepare their own Indian food for the Diwali event to be scheduled later this month, said University Students' Council VP-finance Rohan Belliappa.
"I've never heard of any trouble. I know the university has some strict guidelines for groups to follow," Belliappa noted, adding there are opportunities for clubs to work out compromises with university administration over issues such as catering for large club events. "It would depend on a club-by-club basis. In this case the HSA needed The Great Hall for the capacity of their event."
According to Michael Coleby, executive chef and assistant director of Great Hall Catering no outside food is allowed in The Great Hall because the workforce is unionized and there are health and safety concerns at risk. "A great concern is the safety of customers," he said. "We have a union, and obviously if we bring outside food, that's contracting out," he explained.
An agreement was later reached between Great Hall Catering and the HSA.
"We will be serving the food as agreed with the president of the club," Coleby said, adding the HSA will be bringing some of their own food to the event and it will be prepared under the supervision of Great Hall Catering.
Coleby pointed out this rarely occurs because Great Hall Catering can and does prepare ethnic foods and often they use recipes given by the ethnic clubs and prepare the food in their kitchen for the event.
"It's a religious event and the food has to be cooked in the original way," Bhalla noted.
She pointed out the importance of holding the event on campus because of the high attendance expected for the event as well as to entice first-year Hindus to take part.
Bhalla said the HSA will provide Great Hall Catering with recipes for the food to be served at the Diwali event, while some food will be brought by the HSA to be reheated The wait staff will be paid by the HSA, she added.
"It's a cultural event, but understanding is difficult," said HSA vice-president Kudan Joshi, pointing out the club also hoped to get fireworks for Diwali but insurance costs for shooting them from the roof of the University Community Centre were too high.
"Yes, we're happy with the arrangement - this is the place we wanted and we couldn't ask for anything more," Bhalla said, noting barring any unforeseen difficulties the event will go well.
"There are clubs that go off campus when [the university] can't cater to them," Belliappa said. "[But] we encourage clubs to keep their events on campus for the safety of the students.