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Students Rally Around Fired University of Miami Cafeteria Worker

UM students show support for Betty Asbury, a former cafeteria worker.
UM students show support for Betty Asbury, a former cafeteria worker.
Courtesy of Monica Herndon/The Miami Hurricane

University of Miami students are rallying around a school cafeteria worker who was dismissed from her job on October 10, the day after she let a man leave the cafeteria without paying. The worker, Betty Asbury, claims the man only used the restroom and did not eat or drink anything.

Students have since rallied around Asbury, signing an online petition on Change.org which calls for the reinstatement of the cafeteria employee and for the University of Miami to "look deeper into the issues Chartwells employees face on campus". The petition was started by Phillip Schwind, a UM graduate student and member of campus group Students for a New Democracy.


The petition, which has 3,131 electronic signatures, states that:

"Betty

Asbury, a single mother and cashier at the University of Miami, was

fired because a man used the restroom. Last week, she didn't notice a

man pass by her cashier station while she was busy ringing up another

customer. The next day she was fired.

According to Betty, her district manager later admitted that he had

reviewed the security tapes and the man had gone straight to the

restroom and did not get food.

The district manager said corporate policy prevented him from rehiring

her."

Students' comments on the petition site show Asbury to be a

hard worker with a friendly demeanor. Hanna Malone from Sebastian, Florida wrote, "It was always a

heart-warming 'good morning' to see Ms. Betty at breakfast. She'd

endearingly call me 'baby' and ask how I was doing. This woman is a

sweetheart and a fantastic example of what customer service should look

like."

The petition is being sent to both Chartwells' resident district manager, Lee Rapport and UM president, Donna Shalala.

In

addition, students held an on-campus demonstration yesterday, October

23 at 2 p.m. Though about 100 students were expected, according to

Jacqueline R. Menendez, University of Miami's vice president for

communications, only about a dozen or so attended. In addition to students, several workers

showed solidarity for Asbury, who was also at the event.

Menendez

also attended the rally. "I went to see for myself," she told Short

Order. "A lot of students are fond of Ms. Asbury and want to make sure

she wasn't treated unfairly."

Menendez said that that although

Asbury was not an employee of the university, representatives from the

school have requested an investigation be conducted by the cafeteria

contractor. "Chartwells is on campus and we're hoping to see the results

of the investigation."

When asked if the university would

welcome Asbury back on campus if the investigation cleared her, Menendez replied, "It's not our call. It's up to Chartwells."

The

company that Asbury worked for, Chartwells Higher Education Dining

Services, is a division of Compass Group. Compass is the world's largest

contract food service company, servicing arenas, schools, hospitals, and corporations.

A statement issued by Chartwells

confirms that a review of the incident is being conducted and that it

"hopes to conclude its comprehensive review by the end of this week."

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