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UC Irvine serves chicken and waffles on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

January 26, 2011 | 11:29 am

Officials at the University of California Irvine acknowledged Wednesday that serving chicken and waffles at a campus cafeteria in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day was not in "good taste," but said the chef is not being disciplined.

The incident first reported in the OC Weekly occurred Jan. 17 when a chef at Pippin Commons and several other staff members determined the menu without any oversight from the university, said UCI spokeswoman Cathy Lawhon.

The menu and a sign reading "MLK Holiday Special: Chicken and Waffles" were thrown together at the last minute and not in the "best taste," she said.

The meal passed uneventfully except for one member of the Black Student Union, who lodged a formal complaint, she said.

Thomas Parham, vice chancellor of student affairs, tried to schedule a meeting with the chef and student, but the student declined, Lawhon said. Parham was unavailable for comment.

Lawhon described the possible meeting as an opportunity for a “teachable moment.”

“The sign was probably more of a touch point than the food itself,” Lawhon said.

She said the intention behind the menu was to offer comforting food for students in conjunction with Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“But it probably wasn’t the most sensitive thing,” Lawhon said.

No disciplinary action was taken against the chef, and it was unclear if any action would be taken in the future, Lawhon said.

According to the OC Weekly, black student leaders are considering boycotting Pippin and are encouraging others on campus to follow suit.

Officials with Aramark Corp., which provides dining services for student housing, said they will conduct cultural sensitivity training for all managers and chefs.

Last week, Orange County was the center of another tense racial incident when Thalia Surf Shop in Laguna Beach received harsh scrutiny for offering 20% off all-black colored items for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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-- Nate Jackson

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