UP’s Hatfield Campus has a range of restaurants including Tribeca, Coffee Buzz, and Haloa that offer a variety of food choices for students. The dining hall is the only place that allows students to use their student cards to pay for their meals. It provides food that is suitable for most students, but does not cater for Muslim students. This problem was brought to light by president of the UP Muslim Students Association, Saaif Suliman. Suliman said that many students used to get Halaal food from the South Campus, however, “with the demolition of the bridge [connecting Main Campus to South Campus], it makes it next to impossible for Muslim students to access the Halaal food outlet on South [Campus].” This has proven to be an inconvenience as travelling to Halaal food outlets in the Hatfield or Brooklyn area can waste time.
UP’s webpage explains that the demolition of the bridge is due to a construction project on South Campus. Although UP estimates that the project will be completed and the bridge replaced come mid-2018, Suliman says that [the Muslim community] would love to see a permanent Halaal food outlet on Main Campus as the Muslim demographic is rather large and is only growing. Muslims can eat vegetarian food offered by restaurants and the dining hall on campus, but this is not ideal due to possible cross-contamination from non-Halaal meat products. According to Peter Martin, Deputy Director of Residences Affairs and Accommodation at UP, “TuksRes kitchens are not certified as Halaal, but most of our products we serve come from Halaal-certified suppliers. For some students this is acceptable, but for others not.” Suliman, on the other hand, claims that because there is no strictly Halaal section in the dining hall, it “does not cater for Muslims adequately.” The Halal Food Authority webpage states that the word “halaal” simply translates to “permissible”. To make meat Halaal, or permissible, the animal needs to be slaughtered in accordance with a ritual known as “Zabihah” or “Zibah.” The Quran says that the animal must be slaughtered with a razor-sharp knife and in a single movement so that the jugular vein, carotid artery, and windpipe are all severed at once. The blood must then be drained from the animal. Any death incurred by strangulation or violent beating is forbidden. In addition to this, all pork and alcoholic products are forbidden. “As Muslims, we are ordered to eat Halaal food and only Halaal food”, says Suliman. “Halaal food refers to food items that are permissible for Muslims to eat, as well as meat or poultry that has been slaughtered in accordance with Islamic laws and rites. These laws and rites outline more than just a prayer, but include the method of slaughtering so as to bring about as little pain as possible to the animal and maintain as much nutrition in its meat.”
Although finding Halaal food on campus may prove to be difficult, Suliman says “alternative measures have been made available for some Muslim [residence] students.” Martin explains these alternatives: “TuksRes Food Services made an arrangement with one supplier to provide strictly Halaal meals that will not go through our kitchens. [The meals] will be frozen and students will need to book these meals beforehand. Last year only a few students in residences made use of this provision.”
Suliman concludes by saying, “We believe that for the most part, the University has taken the diverse nature of our country into consideration and we are proud to be part of such a diverse nation. With that being said, it sometimes gets difficult to know what needs to be catered for every aspect of this demographic. However, we are confident that this issue will be resolved once brought to the attention of the relevant people within UP’s management.”