Student Union makes dining hall changes a priority

January 31st, 2013

Dining services always seems to be a topic of conversation among John Carroll students, and at the start of the new semester, it was one of the first things discussed during open forum at the first Student Union Senate meeting, held Tuesday, Jan. 22. Students explained their complaints with JCU Dining, and the senators detailed what they were doing to help.

Junior Chelsea Gerken, the vice president for programming, brought students’ complaints about dining services to the attention of the Senate, according to the meeting minutes. This instigated a conversation about the various problems with the Schott Dining Hall that have been irritating students this semester.

One of the issues brought to light by sophomore Tim Ficke, executive vice president, was that the Coke machine is “gross” and the buttons always are “sticky.” Ficke added that everything should be cleaned properly. When asked about dining services overall, Ficke said, “I believe there are many minor issues in the dining hall that lead to a larger negative perception, including long lines for popular items and lack of availability and options for food.”

Regarding mechanical problems with the drink machines in Schott Dining Hall, David Turska, JCU’s director of dining services, said, “We are aware of the water leak at one of our beverage stations, and have and will continue to work with our equipment repair vendors to correct this problem.”

As for the overall cleanliness of the dining hall, Turska said, “There have been no other issues brought to our attention. I would suggest that if any patron of the dining hall has a need, or if an issue arises, please let us know by approaching the checker stand and asking for assistance.  A manager or supervisor will be alerted to assist in your request.”

Other members of the Student Union expressed their concerns over the use of the meal plan. The conversation resulted from junior Jon Standish’s comment that meal swipes should be transferable to the Inn Between so students who arrive on campus after dining hours, such as athletes, can utilize their meal plan more effectively.

Other JCU students seem to agree with Standish’s position. Sophomore Julia Hohner said, “I think it would be wonderful to have more flexibility with meal swipes. If we are paying for the meal plan, we should have the opportunity to put all that money where we want to use it.”

Sophomore Danielle Keane agreed with Hohner. “Sometimes it is hard to fit a meal in at the dining hall,” she said. “I would love to use swipes instead of dining dollars at the Inn Between so I could grab something quickly without throwing off my dining dollars budget.”

However, some students like the way the meal plan is structured. Sophomore Nicole Shellenbarger said, “I think John Carroll has a great system when it comes to meal swipes. There is a certain amount that is budgeted into each meal plan. Other schools do not offer this option; instead, they must pay for each meal individually.”

In regards to the meal plans, Ficke said, “Many students with block plans end the year with many extra meals, and I think a solution to this is establishing other places where students can use their meal swipes.”

However, Turska noted that there are not currently any plans to amend the meal swipe policy any time soon.

Another issue that students seem to have involves the hours that the dining hall is open. Freshman SU Senator Emily Wach commented at the Senate meeting that it would be nice if the Dining Hall could open earlier on the weekends to accommodate athletes who need it for special events. In addition, freshman senator Cole Hassay, chairman of the Committee on Dining Services, said that the extension of the dining hall’s hours by one hour could be looked into.

However, this is not the current plan for dining services, according to Turska.“There are no plans to change or extend the Dining Hall hours to my knowledge,” he said.

Freshman senator Kyle Vermette expressed a frustration among students that the vegetarian station is not open on the weekends. Sophomore Michael Younes agreed, saying that it would be nice if there were more vegetarian options.

Hassay said, “I think the biggest issue that needs to be addressed in the dining hall is the sometimes limited food options. I think that a larger variety of foods in the dining hall would create a much happier student body.”

Members of the Student Union are planning on trying to work out a plan with JCU Dining that will aid both the students and JCU Dining.

Ficke said, “This year on Student Union, I will work directly with the dining committee to address all issues that students have.”

Finally, Hassay explained, “As chairman of the dining committee, I plan to work with the Aramark Dining Services Staff, and create and pass some legislation through Student Union that will work towards addressing the student body’s dining concerns.”