What a difference more than four decades makes. Instead of being about civil rights or Viet Nam or any of the issues that fueled student unrest in the 60’s, the new flavor of civil disobedience at Columbia University is Nutella.
Students young enough to be the grandchildren of the original protesters, having been removing the chocolate hazelnut spread from the college’s cafeterias at the rate of 100 pounds a day. It’s been estimated that Nutellagate could cost Columbia U a quarter of a million a year in. Hard to be on the side of the well-endowed and tres expensive Ivy school on this one. Losing $$$,$$$ on Nutella cafeteria expenses? Eat it.
A student, who said he liked to spread Nutella on sandwiches, and wrote about the issue on a Facebook site for Freshman, had his own explanation for why the Nutella issue had caught on.
“It combines three things people at Columbia love: People love Nutella, people love complaining about the dining halls and people feel there’s a problem with how the administration handles things,” he said. “This Nutella situation is a perfect storm of all these interests coming together.”
And now it turns out that the Nutella nabbing was much less than reported. A follow-up piece from the NY Times:
“Missing Nutella, Part 2: Columbia Puts Consumption Far Below ReportBy JAMES BARRON
Columbia University on Thursday issued what a spokesman called “a tongue-in-cheek university statement” about the cost of Nutella that students have been eating in — or stealing from — campus dining halls.
“Nutella-gate Exposed,” the statement said. “It’s a Smear!”
The statement said Nutella was not costing Columbia $5,000 a week, as many outlets, including this one, had reported. That figure had been cited by a member of the Columbia College Student Council, Peter Bailinson, who said he got it from the executive director of the university’s Dining Services, Vicki Dunn. He said the $5,000 figure covered only one week last month, the first week in which Nutella was available in dining halls every day. (Until then, it had mainly been served in crepes on weekends.)
Mr. Bailinson said Ms. Dunn had told him that students had run through 100 pounds of Nutella a day. The Columbia Spectator quoted her as saying that Dining Services was “going through product faster than anticipated” because students were filling cups with Nutella in one dining hall and taking “full jars” from another.
The Spectator speculated that Dining Services could spend $250,000 on Nutella in one year.
Columbia, which had declined to comment on the Nutella situation on Wednesday, said in its statement Thursday that “the ongoing weekly cost of Nutella supply is actually less than one-tenth the purported amount originally reported on a student blog and quickly picked up by other media.”
“It is true that in the first three-four days after Nutella was recently added to the dining hall selections,” the statement said, “demand was indeed extraordinarily high.”
But the statement, first published Thursday by The Spectator, said “the actual cost was only about $2,500, and quickly went down to $450 per week for dining halls that serve some 3,600 students, seven days a week at three locations.”
The statement also said that “media attention to Nutella-gate has cut down on the amount people have been taking in recent days.”