Students Rally Around Fired University of Miami Cafeteria Worker

bettyasbury and students1.jpg
Courtesy of Monica Herndon/The Miami Hurricane
UM students show support for Betty Asbury, a former cafeteria worker.
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 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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University of Miami

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