Campus shop sells ‘Spring Orbs’ after Vegan Society claims Easter eggs are offensive
UPDATE: Check the date of publication… your Easter eggs are safe for now!
A campus shop has been selling ‘Spring Orbs' after the university's Vegan Society complained that Easter eggs are offensive.
In March, the Penzance University Vegan Society (PUVS) launched an online petition calling for the sale of Easter eggs to be banned in the campus shop. PUVS raised several concerns over Easter eggs, including the use of cows' milk as an ingredient and the fact that the chocolate treats are “masquerading as chicken eggs”.
However, by the time PUVS had published their petition, the university's campus shop had already bought hundreds of eggs that it intended to sell in the run-up to the Easter holidays.
Faced with growing pressure from PUVS and the university's wider student population, but also lumbered with a huge supply of eggs to sell, the shop settled on a compromise: replacing all mentions of the phrase ‘Easter eggs' with ‘Spring Orbs‘.
While the move has been welcomed by some, PUVS feel that the Penzance University campus shop hasn't gone far enough in ensuring no offence is caused. Meanwhile, other students at the university have complained that the shop shouldn't be giving in to what they feel are ridiculous demands.
Why do the Vegan Society believe that Easter eggs are offensive?
In recent years, social media has been awash with claims that Cadbury and other Easter egg manufacturers are distancing themselves from the term ‘Easter' in order to avoid offending non-Christians.
Despite the facts, and Cadbury themselves (see the tweet below), proving this to be fake news, it has drawn attention to the potential for festive celebrations to cause offence.
We haven't! We’ve used the word Easter in Marketing & Comms for over 100yrs & continue to do so in our 2018 Easter range. We often update packaging to ensure we keep things exciting. This year we’ve had a spring season makeover, & the word Easter is displayed more prominently 🙂 pic.twitter.com/CCumh4fvl3
— Cadbury UK (@CadburyUK) February 27, 2018
It now seems as though this furore has hit the student population, as when the Penzance University shop began stocking Easter eggs in early March, the resident Vegan Society quickly took issue with it.
As soon as PUVS had got wind of the shop selling chocolate eggs, Joseph King, the society's president, approached the shop staff to discuss his concerns. When we asked Joseph how this meeting went, he said:
They didn't seem interested in what I had to say, and definitely didn't seem to want to cooperate. One of them even made a personal attack and called PUVS “a joke”.
Following the unsuccessful attempt to hold peace talks, Joseph took to the society's WhatsApp group to discuss how to proceed.
Several ideas were put forward, and following a vote, the society decided against occupying the shop in favour of setting up an online petition calling for a ban on the sale of Easter eggs in the campus shop.
According to PUVS' petition on Change.org, Easter eggs are offensive because:
- They are masquerading as chickens' eggs
- A rabbit is “forced” to deliver the eggs
- The Student's Union is profiting from the sale of “religious paraphernalia made from milk meant for baby cows“.
This is the first year in which Penzance University has been challenged on its sale of Easter eggs, but Joseph prefers to see this as a sign of progress:
The Vegan Society was only formed this year, and I think most of us are just starting to realise how offensive Easter “eggs” actually are.
Our society only has 17 members, but the petition currently has over 600 signatures. Clearly this isn't just a vegan issue – it's an everyone issue.
The response of the campus shop
Hugh Owens, the manager of the campus shop, was initially dismissive of PUVS' concerns. He said:
We've been selling Easter eggs – sorry, Spring Orbs – here for as long as I've worked here, and probably long before before that too. Why is it suddenly an issue now?
He was also particularly annoyed at the timing of the complaints:
Everyone knows when Easter is coming, so why wait to protest until after I've ordered in almost £1,000 worth of eggs?
We only employ students here, and I've got a responsibility to them to run a profitable business so I can pay their wages.
With close to a grand's worth of stock in his possession, it's easy to see why he was reluctant to pull the eggs from the shelves. But with the petition rapidly gaining signatures, and the university's student population getting more and more enraged, Hugh felt he had to make a concession.
It was less than a week until Easter and we'd only sold about 10 Easter eggs.
We're a small shop, and I can't just be chucking away £1,000, so I decided to rebrand all our Easter eggs as ‘Spring Orbs'.
Why not Easter Orbs? According to Hugh, the SU is meant to be neutral on all religious issues. And so, in an attempt to swerve any further outrage, he dropped the term ‘Easter' altogether.
True to his word, Hugh made sure that the phrase ‘Easter egg' was completely removed from the campus shop. And he really did make sure it was removed. From the promotional displays and packages…
… to the receipts…
… Hugh was nothing if not comprehensive.
Too much, or not enough?
PUVS have publicly stated that they are far from happy with the actions taken by the campus shop, with Joseph King arguing:
None of our concerns have been addressed. Changing the name doesn't change the fact that these ‘Orbs' are imitating a chicken's egg, or that they promote the exploitation of animal workers.
The SU will still be profiting from this, and we're still furious.
However, amidst the unmissable anger from those who seek to ban the sale of Easter eggs, many of Penzance University's students have come out in support of the campus shop.
Sofia Proll, a second-year student enrolled on a Creative Writing course, said:
The whole thing is pretty ridiculous, to be honest. When I told my friends at home they thought I was winding them up, wondering how anyone could get offended by a chocolate egg.
I bought an egg after they'd been rebranded as Orbs, but yes, I definitely would have bought one either way.
Nobody in their right mind will wake up on Sunday, look at the date and think “time for a Spring Orb”. They're Easter eggs, and that's that.
For the university, this unwanted publicity is nothing new. In 2016 the SU hit the headlines for claiming that students caught dabbing were guilty of cultural appropriation, while last year they came under fire for trying to ban fidget spinners, suggesting that ‘fidget' offended people with short attention spans.
That said, this latest scandal, as ridiculous as it may seem to some, is at least putting the spotlight on a university that many people won't have heard of until now.
Whether you know someone who'll think this is a positive step, or a complete joke, make sure to share this story with your friends!