Indianapolis, IN: No Food Trucks on Campus?

By Amanda Todd  |   The Odyssey Online


Food trucks—whether it’s taking a trip to the Chocolate Moose south of campus or grabbing a sandwich from the Big Cheese on Kirkwood – are unique businesses with some of the best local food Bloomington has to offer. That’s why so many student organizations have been pressing for their presence on campus. Not only would their involvement support each of the food truck’s individual businesses, but it would also fill our stomachs and serve as a fun alternative to the typical meal plan we all fall back on and that consists primarily of Chipotle or Noodles. It seems like a great idea, integrating local businesses with Indiana University students. So, why haven’t we seen any food trucks around campus?

Please direct your attention to page eight of the Student Organization Handbook.

After scrolling past the section titled “POLICY: Working with Outside Vendors, For-Profit Entities, and Credit Card Companies,” you’ll see the following statement:

“Please note the following limitations placed on the type of outside vendor or for-profit entity your organization may partner with for an event on campus:

  • NO food trucks
  • NO credit card companies
  • In the event that IU has a contract for a specific product or service with a vendor, your organization may NOT sponsor other vendors who offer that same service or product.”

Even though this rule is clearly listed in the Student Organization Handbook, and we all have access to it, the above statement may still come as a shock to many who haven’t already read the handbook. Essentially, what this clause means is that at no point and under no circumstances are food trucks permitted on campus or on the property of any organization run through IU (for instance, food trucks cannot be present at Greek houses, even if they are technically off campus, because they are directly associated with the university). Not only does this rule restrict the businesses involved, but it also prohibits student organizations from capitalizing on one of the most effective fundraising methods for their philanthropic efforts: food.

Recently, Kappa Delta planned a fundraiser for their annual fall Shamrock philanthropy which involved bringing several food trucks to the sorority house for a few hours to allow students to purchase food. An event like this would have attracted lots of Greeks and other students in the area due to convenience and popularity, raising money and awareness for the chapter’s philanthropy. However, after learning of the rule prohibiting food trucks on campus property, this fundraiser had to be cancelled.

“We were planning on having a day where three different food trucks agreed to come to our house and give part of the proceeds to our philanthropy, which supports Prevent Child Abuse America and the Middle Way House here in Bloomington,” Kappa Delta Shamrock Chair Emily Bussick states, “but IU has a rule that food trucks are not allowed on campus. As a result, we are missing out on a great deal of money that can be used in such a beneficial way. It’s really sad to see that we went through all the proper processes to get this event approved for such a great cause, and yet we would be breaking student conduct rules if we held the event.”

Emily’s frustrations are reflective of many student organizations on campus. As part of their running platform, Amplify for IUSA planned to bring food trucks to campus, demonstrating that while this is a matter concerning many students, it hasn’t yet been properly addressed. One of the most confusing elements of this rule is that food trucks cannot be present on any IU student organization’s property, even if that property is not university-owned, because the organization is linked directly to the school. “We live on property owned by Kappa Delta, but we still have to follow IU’s rules,” Emily adds. “It’s really discouraging that IU doesn’t allow food trucks at student-run events, even if it’s for a philanthropy and benefiting such a great cause. I deeply believe that as students, we should have a say in issues like this.”

Understandably, the university needs to have limitations and guidelines governing student organization activities. However, a restriction on inviting popular local food businesses onto campus in support of philanthropic efforts, many of which benefit the Bloomington community directly, seems a bit overboard. As passionate, involved members of the Greek community and driven members of IU’s student body, we intend to make a difference in whatever way we can. If that means fighting for food trucks on campus in order to raise more money for our philanthropies, we are more than willing to do so. The first step is making the rest of the student population aware of the issue. The second is to let IU know that we aren’t okay with it.