I am not a vegetarian, but at Georgetown University, I often have no choice but to eat like one — unless I compromise my faith.

Like many other Muslim students on campus, I ascribe to a halal diet — a religious dietary standard requiring meat to be prepared according to Islamic rituals and prohibiting consumption of pork, alcohol and some seafood. However, halal services currently offered by Hoya Hospitality are inconsistent, inadequate and poorly advertised, forcing students who eat halal to either remain unfulfilled or compromise their religious beliefs. To better serve students, Georgetown should offer a station in O’Donovan Hall that only serves halal meals.

In response to an email inquiry about halal options available on campus, Hoya Hospitality manager Heather Krieger, listed just three out of 14 locations that offer halal services — Fresh Food Company, which serves the bottom floor of Leo’s, LEO|MKT Olive Branch and Bulldog Tavern. In fact, Hoya Hospitality rarely provides what is promised, even at these few locations.

At the Grill station of Fresh Food Company, students are supposedly able to request halal grilled chicken. However, employees who are unaware or misinformed about the availability of halal foods often turn students away, contributing to confusion about the options offered.

Moreover, because halal service is a special request, it is often treated as a second priority. This semester alone, I have been told halal options were unavailable because of inclement weather, special events hosted by Leo’s and even because another station took the chicken allocated for halal requests and used it in a different dish.

Olive Branch, one of Leo’s upstairs locations, comes closer to fulfilling the needs of halal restrictions, but it too falls short. While Krieger’s email claims that all chicken and lamb and most pizzas are halal at Olive Branch, this claim is largely unproven. Aside from an expired halal certificate for poultry and “halal” occasionally written underneath some of the items on the menu board, there is no way for students to identify what is halal. There is little value in offering an increased number of halal products if students who adhere to the restriction are not aware of the options.

Moreover, Olive Branch is inconsistent in adhering to the principles of halal, often cooking dishes with alcohol while advertising them as halal. Students only become aware of the contradictory nature of these dishes after carefully reading ingredients on Olive Branch’s menu board or online menu. When students brought this concern to managers in previous instances, the dishes were replaced with another one — also cooked with liquor. Such inconsistent and inadequate food preparation has caused students to lose trust in Hoya Hospitality.

At Bulldog Tavern, meanwhile, halal options are nonexistent. Krieger claimed in her email that grilled chicken and salmon would be available on request. Yet, after placing an order, I was told the service has yet to be implemented and is only being discussed as a possibility at this stage.

With these abysmal options to choose from, Georgetown forces Muslim students to change their diets and eat vegetarian instead. The severely limited options for halal are restrictive and unfair. Muslim students pay just as much for the meal plan, but leave Leo’s feeling hungry. As a result, some students give up the halal diet, understandably feeling that their health is negatively impacted. Contrary to the religious tolerance Georgetown preaches, its lack of a halal station pressures Muslim students to violate their faith.

To truly embody religious tolerance, Georgetown must offer a distinct station that caters strictly to halal restrictions, such as Harvest, which only serves vegetarian cuisine, or Allergen, which accommodates allergies. Such a station would demand accountability in actually providing the halal service the current system is unable to consistently achieve. Moreover, it would mitigate the current state of confusion by distinguishing what offerings are halal.

A separate halal station would also be easier for Hoya Hospitality to implement in the long run, requiring investment only in the sperate cooking equipment and grills for the halal station.

In implementing halal options, Georgetown should follow the example of Columbia University, which offers separate stations serving halal versions of the hot meals that day. Students who participate in a meal plan can choose Columbia’s halal meal plan, in which a halal sticker is placed on students’ ID cards, allowing them to order from the halal station. Such a system ensures students who eat halal receive the services they need and eliminate the risk of resources running out.

To address its hypocrisy in the discrepancy between preached Jesuit ideals and dining services, Georgetown must implement a halal station and allow Muslim students to practice — not compromise — their faith.

Hiba Ahmad is a freshman in the McDonough School of Business.

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