Ideas or opinions on campus dining?
While serving as Student Union Senate’s Campus Services Committee chair, dining-related issues and concerns are the most prevalent issues my committee and I face each week. After these first weeks back, all of my committee members have noticed dissatisfaction with the changes made to dining services across campus. I’d like a forum to discuss these ideas and to work toward improving dining services. I hope to spark some dialogue about these issues (including hours, pricing, menu options and lines) so that I can bring them to those who can make changes happen.
South 40: South 40 House and New Umrath are beautiful, state-of-the-art buildings that would be the envy of any university, and to be fair, the challenges we are facing are mostly transitional because only the first half of a two-phase project has been finished so far. The completed building will undoubtedly exceed all other cafeterias on campus. Those in charge of the new facilities are working to understand the unforeseen, unpredictable problems and alleviate them. Many of us have met Nadeem Siddiqui (Bon Appétit’s resident district manager) as he roams the 40—often at times when he should be home with his family—chatting with students about how to improve their eating experiences. He and others are working as hard as they can to iron out the kinks for us.
However, after over two weeks, the current situation on the South 40 is unacceptable. No one should have to wait more than 30 minutes for a hamburger, and students should not be forced to stand as they eat their meals. We can fix these problems and make the best out of a difficult situation this year if we come together to discuss and come up with creative solutions.
North Side: Many people have asked why the Village is not open late like the South 40. Let me be completely honest: Dining Services does not have the money to add hours to all of its locations. They have been operating on a tight budget for years, and with 14 cafeterias on campus (more than any school of comparable size), staffing and running the kitchens is expensive. Hours could be easily extended if students were willing to pay more for food—but I certainly don’t want that. So what can we do? We have to put on our fiscal hats and work with the administration to cut hours where we don’t need them. Later hours in the Village may mean losing daytime hours or cutting back in Holmes or Whispers. These are possibilities—but we can’t have everything open all the time. If we can find some compromise, hours can be shifted around.
DUC: From Ibby’s to WebFood to the café and six food stations, we’ve got it pretty good. However, congestion and recent cuts in the DUC’s hours are not working for students. The college culture necessitates a dining venue north of Forsyth (DUC or Village) that stays open until at least 9 p.m., and somewhere to get coffee and a cookie until 10:30 p.m. or 11 p.m. Being able to get a late dinner in the DUC is critical due to evening meetings on main campus and spillover from the transitional South 40. This is something we need to work on, but adding hours still means cutting back somewhere else. We will have to find a way to get the doors open later—but we need input and ideas.
Let’s remember: Our food is superb, our options are almost unrivaled, the service is phenomenal and administrators are open to changes that benefit students. The main issues we face are logistical ones about the facilities and operations. These are important issues, and there are three key ways for you to submit your thoughts, ideas and concerns to my committee and the administrators involved.
1. Send an e-mail to [email protected].
2. Log on to the Twitter account and post your thoughts to create a dialogue (username: WashUDining, password: dining).
3. Come to a Campus Services Committee meeting on Mondays from 5-6:30 p.m. in the SU Office Conference Room.
I plan to set up a forum in which dining officials can meet with students to take ideas, answer questions and hear concerns in the coming weeks. I look forward to a real discussion on these issues, and I am confident that we’ll all be level-headed, creative and successful in improving dining at Wash. U. I pledge to continue working with Dining Services until these challenges are solved.