Rutgers bans offensive sandwich names from food trucks

February 16, 2005

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Rutgers University has ordered popular food trucks on its College Avenue campus to change the names of certain sandwiches after receiving complaints from students.

Some of the names were derogatory toward women, gays and members of certain ethnic groups.

The vendors’ contractual obligations include "showing respect to all students, faculty and staff, and operating in a professional, courteous manner," Rutgers spokeswoman Sandra Lanman said in a statement.

Sam Algar, owner of the Mr. C’s food truck, said he received a letter directing him to change the names. He and the owners of the other two food trucks parked in a university parking lot promptly covered them up with silver duct tape.

"It’s not like it’s a bad thing. I’m not trying to discriminate or anything," Algar told The Star-Ledger of Newark for Wednesday’s newspapers. "It’s extraordinary. It’s funny."

Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, a statewide gay and lesbian political organization, isn’t laughing.

"These sandwich businesses manage to be sexist, homophobic and offensive all in one grand slam," he told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "This is how hate crimes start, when people feel it’s OK to make biased comments publicly."

But others see the food fight as another example of political correctness getting out of hand. David French, president of the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said while it may be the university’s prerogative to ask the owners to change their menus, it raises some constitutional issues.

"It strikes me as silly and sort of systematic," French said. "It’s kind of a piece of this larger problem that if someone is offended, colleges are awfully quick to pull the trigger."