BM83: Resolution on Rooms for Lunch: All HEIs should give students the possibility to eat their meal in an indoor space

25.11.2022
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At the University of Pavia, for three years, students and representatives of the local UDU students’ union (Coordinamento per il Diritto allo Studio – UDU Pavia) have been asking the academic institutions for a room within the university buildings for eating meals brought from home. 

In recent months, an internal working group was set up within the Academic Senate, consisting of student and university representatives, but nothing has been done yet.  There remains a total ban on eating in a university room used for lectures, and no other spaces are available for students to eat their meals inside. In addition, it is not always possible to access the canteen because of long queues and little time between lectures. 

Last 9 November, a student suffering from an oncological disease was chased away by university staff while trying to eat her meal in a lecture hall at the University of Pavia. Although she had pointed out her disability, that she could not eat her meal in the cold for health reasons and that she could not go to the canteen because of particular allergies, she was chased away: the staff threatened her with calling the police if she did not leave immediately, because it was their job to enforce the rule without exception. 

This discrimination, of unprecedented seriousness and evidence of a lack of attention and sensitivity towards the most fragile categories, is part of a dramatic picture of Pavia university’s management of meal areas. 

Following the mobilisation of the students’ union representatives, the rector apologised to the student, saying that he would urge the academic senate working group to find a solution, identifying places to eat her meals indoors. But the answer the student received, for the time being, was that she can eat, alone, in the porter’s lodge space, almost as if the university wanted to alienate her. 

We have mobilised from the very first moment to demand urgent intervention and guarantees and rights for all students in Pavia, with particular attention to those in fragile categories. 

What happened in Pavia is serious and is just one example of many other universities experiencing the same problem. 

Therefore, as European Students’ Union along with Unione degli Universitari (UDU) we demand:

  • All HEIs and the Italian government to take action so that indoor space is made available to students where they can eat their meals in tranquillity; – A check is made that the spaces available to the student community for lunch can accommodate every student, without discrimination;
  • All university spaces will be renovated so that microwave ovens and new tables and chairs can also be installed outdoors for the summer months; – Investments will be made to build adequate canteen facilities, hire more staff and remove the price of meals so that the university canteens are accessible to all students who need them; 
  • Training courses are set up for university lecturers and staff, specifically regarding disabilities and inclusion.

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