New York University issued an official apology to students for serving watermelon-flavored water and Kool-Aid in a school cafeteria as part of Black History Month.
The incident came to light Tuesday when Black sophomore Nia Harris entered a university dining hall and saw the two items on Black History Month-themed menu, which also included ribs, macaroni and cheese and collard greens, all of which, to varying degrees, are associated with racial stereotypes.
University President Andrew Hamilton, apologized in a statement, calling the decision “inexcusably insensitive” and blaming it on the school’s catering company.
Hamilton also apologized for the response by members of the administration who tried to dismiss a Black student’s questions about the food choices, after the student wrote about the incident in a Facebook post Tuesday.
The catering company, Aramark, fired the two employees after it was revealed they had violated its policies requiring consultation with student leadership and campus cultural organizations for special event menus.
“We have zero tolerance for any employee who does not adhere to our values or contradicts our longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion,” the company said Wednesday in a statement.