Harvard students have taken time out of their busy academic schedules not to end world hunger, but to complain about their own.
It seems that over the past year, the absence of brand-name cereals in campus dining halls has not gone unnoticed. One senior, Cameron Moccari, has started a group called Harvard Students for the Reimplementation of Brand-Named Cereals to voice their grief on thefacebook.com, the college version of Friendster.
According to a report in the Boston Globe, these Crimson students are seeing red because the annual cost of their full meal plan — $4,286, according to the university's Web site — is getting them knock-offs like Tootie Frooties (instead of Fruit Loops) and Colossal Crunch (instead of Cap'n Crunch). "I was shocked to see they had done this to our cereals, they replaced all of the familiar cereals with ones that have weird names and don't taste good," Moccari told the Globe. Other students in the group claim that the stand-ins also turn soggy more quickly than name-brands.
Jami Snyder, communications coordinator of Harvard University Dining Services, told the Globe that the school is responding to the rising cost of brand-name cereal and student surveys demonstrating an increasing interest in healthier breakfast options. According to Snyder, Harvard trimmed its six-figure cereal budget by 25 percent as part of a larger reallocation measure. The money saved helped to meet the demand for healthier options like Smart Dogs, veggie burgers and chicken breasts at grill stations. She also noted that the residential dining services do not benefit from the $20 plus billion Harvard has in endowments, the largest of any academic institution in the world.
Many of the nearly 30 choices of cereal available at Harvard are made by Malt-O-Meal, the nation's fifth largest cereal manufacturer; others are made by Nature's Path and are certified organic. The company's Hemp Plus Granola is one of the most popular offerings at the school.
Aside from Moccari's group, student reaction has been limited to a few disgruntled folks filling out feedback cards.
And if this cereal scandal seems to be indicative of a growing trend of brattiness on the part of Harvard students (see " 'Hilary Duff Is A Loser And A Chicken,' Harvard College Paper Says"), a recent memo from staff researchers at Harvard to academic deans leaked to the Globe found that the Harvard populace ranks among the most dissatisfied and unhappy undergrads in a group of 31 top Ivy and private liberal-arts schools. The confidential memo stated that Harvard students felt let down by the quality of their education, and especially by their social lives.