Meet Arika Reddy

Carson Webb

Following this year's Student Government Association executive election, Arika Reddy takes on the Health and Humanities Senator role for UGA. In addition to her active involvement on campus, Reddy is also a devout vegan and weightlifting fanatic. It's no surprise that she has big plans for students' on-campus dining experience, including UGA dining hall improvements for healthier options.

I sat down with Reddy for an interview to talk about her plans for the future of the dining halls and other aspects of student life. Reddy brought her ideas to the table about an inclusive meal plan and ways UGA's campus can help portray diversity beyond education and into the dining halls.

Diversity in the Dining Halls

wine, tea, beer, coffee, cake
Savannah Tully

When Reddy discussed her reasons for running, she recalled her experience with exclusion as an immigrant from India. Moving to America at 11, she remembers some of the struggles of living in a new country and the school bus of "thirty unfamiliar faces staring at me blankly."

She remembers the bullying and stereotypes, and even being asked if she was a terrorist by one classmate. Reddy said that these problems she faced became a driving force for her to run for position as Health and Humanities Senator.

"I would love to create a more inclusive environment where students feel like they are being supported through their difficulties. I know that what I went through was hard, and I can only hope that through being a senator, I alleviate the suffering of others and promote health and wellbeing," says Reddy.

More Vegan Options

pepper, vegetable
Christiana Akinosho

Her background as an active member of the vegan community also drove Reddy to run. She recalled watching Gary Yourosfky's speech "Best Speech You will Ever Hear," which ultimately cemented her switch to veganism from vegetarianism.  

Reddy says that being vegan has driven her towards "[improving] variety in all the dining halls, with different foods rotating in and out throughout the semester." One dining hall improvement UGA students can look to is her initiative for "fresh fruit available throughout the day."

Smarter Labeling

Anabel Prince

Reddy also spoke of "labeling issues" at the Oglethorpe Dining Commons, saying, "The veggie egg rolls were labeled as vegan, when, in fact, they contain eggs. I was taken aback, as I had been eating them under the impression that they did not contain any animal products. There have been other instances in different dining halls where the same thing has happened. Food mislabeling is an issue that must be identified and fixed."

Reddy mentioned her idea for better labeling with the use of QR codes, where students could scan for nutrition information—an innovative fix to a big issue that would allow students to have better knowledge about the foods they are eating. 

New Fitness Incentives

pasture, grass
Reilly Farrell

Beyond the dining hall tables, UGA students can look for changes in overall campus health and wellness improvement that Reddy wishes to implement. A "Ramsey Swipe System" to encourage and reward students for physical fitness is one idea which Reddy wishes to further work on.

Reddy discussed a swipe system that could provide benefits for students who use workout facilities. This would include things like "a 10% off coupon for a smoothie store or a one-time class pass for [fitness] classes at Ramsey..." 

Speaking with Reddy, it was clear to me the importance of this role to her. From inclusive labeling to initiatives for increased campus fitness, UGA students can look forward to campus-wide improvements as soon as this upcoming fall semester.