UC Breezeway vendor faces scrutiny
Students form petition to halt sale of Hindu idols
Recently, a petition with approximately 200 signatures has been circulating against UC vendor Douglas Goodis, owner of Eccentricity. Goodis was witnessed making inappropriate comments regarding items of religious significance to the Hindu community.
According to Linda Sher-Collado, building and event coordinator for the UC, Goodis has been working on campus as a vendor for over a decade. His table is situated next to the ATMs by the breezeway, opposite the bookstore.
Junior Nirmal Ramanathan began the petition after he observed Goodis playing with a Hindu idol and commenting that what he was doing must be sacrilegious.
Ramanathan was offended by the comment and approached Goodis, who refused to acknowledge his concerns.
Ramanathan then decided to contact UM administration regarding the incident via e-mail.
Goodis says he hopes that this incident will not tarnish his reputation, but he admits that he is not fully aware of the cultural and religious importance of many of the items he sells.
“It’s a shame that such a small group of students can control everything,” Goodis said. “Can a student organization come to my house and tell me to remove the Buddhas from my home?”
Goodis suggested that if students don’t agree with the way he is portraying the Hindu religious icons, they should stand with him and explain the significance of the idols to his customers. However, Goodis says he shouldn’t have to pay any student for the service they would be providing.
Richard Walker, director of the UC and student life, responded to Ramanathan’s concerns.
“As an academic institution we promote the right of individuals to have varying beliefs and ideals and to be able to express these beliefs whether they be by means of religious expression or cultural expression,” Walker said. “We do not live in a society that dictates what a person’s motives should be in order to sell goods or to buy goods.”
“Many people believe that offering these items for sale in fact promotes cultural awareness and broadens horizons which is in keeping with the educational mission of the University,” Walker said.
Walker went on to say that the statues of Hindu mythology may mean different things to different people based on whether they interpret it from a religious, cultural, or educational viewpoint.
Many students are in support of the petition.
“As a Hindu, I’m completely in favor of the petition,” Kunal Patel, junior, said. “The disrespect shown to our religion and disregard for the beliefs of others is appalling.
“As a non-Hindu, I feel this is a very valid argument,” Aaron Carter, sophomore, said.
Members of the Hindu Students Council are also in favor of the petition.
“We support this petition and if this gentleman is selling these idols, he should definitely do it in a tasteful manner,” Aarti Patel, treasurer for Hindu Students Council, said. “We expect that an explanation by Mr. Walker will resolve the situation.”
Despite the petition against him, Goodis says he enjoys working at UM, although he says his wholesale business is far more profitable.
“[UM] is one of my places to work at,” Goodis said. “What I make there is minimal compared to what I make with my wholesale business.”
Walker says that before Goodis is allowed back on campus, a meeting will be held to discuss the manner in which he conducts his business.
For any comments or concerns regarding this issue, contact Richard Walker at ext. 8-2805.
Arnab Basu can be contacted at email@example.com.