NYU President Apologizes After Watermelon Water, Kool-Aid Appear on Black History Month Menu

What to Know

  • On Tuesday, a menu consisting of cornbread, collard greens, macaroni and cheese and Kool-Aid and watermelon-flavored water angered students.
  • NYU President Andrew Hamilton made a statement calling the choices made by the dining hall’s food staff “inexcusably insensitive.”
  • With the apology, Hamilton noted that food staff members had been fired, and that the remaining staff would undergo sensitivity training.

After an outcry from students, New York University’s president is apologizing for a Black History Month menu that featured watermelon-flavored water and Kool-Aid. 

Two food service workers were also fired after Nia Harris, a black student, took her frustrations over Tuesday's menu, which also included  cornbread, collard greens, macaroni and cheese.

"This school prides itself on being diverse and inclusive. Yet, we are displaying stereotypical food for Black History month and telling black students that this is not racially insensitive," Harris said in the post.

In the post, which was also sent to the school administration, Harris said the beverages used were racially insensitive and reflected poorly on the school’s diversity and inclusion policies.

“There is a long history of negative racial connotation of watermelon,” she said.

Harris said she and others asked the administration to understand that the celebration of Black History Month could not be reduced to the use of a piece of fruit as a prop.

In a statement on NYU's website Wednesday, NYU President Andrew Hamilton called the choices made by the dining hall’s food staff “inexcusably insensitive." He added that in addition to the firings, other staffers would undergo sensitivity training.

Some students commented on Harris’ post, blaming her for costing school employees their jobs, with one student writing: “As a black man I enjoyed the hell out of that meal. The cooks who suggested it was black and you got them fired.”

“My aim and my goal was not to get anyone fired. I just wanted an apology,” said Harris.

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