If you have a horror story about the food in Lawrence, Ram’s Head, or any of the other on-campus eateries, the dining hall Advisory Board would like to hear about it. The newly created organization, open to all students at West Chester University, held its first official meeting on Oct. 23. The board consists of management staff from the Ram’s Head Food Court, Lawrence Dining Hall, the Diner and South Campus South Side. It is one of many positive steps taken in recent months to improve Aramark’s overall reputation amongst West Chester University students. The group serves as an open forum for students to address any concerns that they may have, from the long lines at Ram’s Head to specific incidents involving staff members.
One student at the meeting questioned why certain products at Ram’s Head were not marked with expiration dates and cited an incident where food that had clearly gone bad was still on the shelves. Another asked for a wider selection of organic products in Larry’s Market. The suggestions were met with enthusiasm from the responsive management staff, and in the two weeks since the first meeting, changes have been noticeable.
A follow-up meeting with Michael Seamon, the Director of Operations for Aramark, Daniel Burns, the Resident Manager and Bob Murphy, the ?District Marketing Manager, revealed a side to WCU Dining Services many students are not aware of. For example, Aramark sets aside money to use for sponsoring on-campus events. These resources are available to any student organization that approaches Dining Services for aid.
However, due to lack of communication between the administration and the student body, these funds are going largely unused. The members of the Dining Hall Advisory Board, who admit that lack of communication has been a hindrance, hope that the creation of a student-based organization will open lines of communication and establish a mutually beneficial relationship between Dining Services and West Chester University students.
In addition to offering students funding, Aramark donates the refreshments for the Miss WCU pageant, and has done so for the past nine years. They also provide midnight snacks to students free of charge over finals week, and cater the annual Martin Luther King Day breakfast. Dining Services also recently sponsored a fraternity’s benefit concert and donated equipment to the WCU Wellness Center.
Another topic addressed at the meeting was the dwindling number of student employees in the dining halls over the past several years. To spark interest, Dining Services plans to introduce an incentive program for student employees, to combat the “stigma” some associate with a job at Lawrence or Ram’s Head. A job in Dining Services already offers a special late night wage, and the incentive program would reward student employees who continue to work for multiple semesters.
The new Starbucks coming to the Francis Harvey Green Library next semester is another way the management has responded to student demands. They hope to turn the ever-popular chain into a student hangout, with the same hours as the library Java City.
One way that they hope to create an atmosphere of community is by hiring primarily students to work in the Starbucks. Another attractive feature of the plan is that the library Starbucks promises to have lower prices than those at a retail Starbucks location, which will be a relief to college students already low on cash.
Most importantly, the managers’ stressed, was timeiness in regards to complaints. If an issue occurs, it is imperative that the staff be made aware of it as soon as possible. The only way that recurring problems can be fixed is if they are effectively communicated to those in charge.
You can make a difference in the way your school is run by attending the Dining Hall advisory board meetings. The Dining Hall advisory board meets every other Tuesday. Their next meeting will be held in Traditions on Nov. 6, at 3:30 p.m.
Emily Wenick is a first-year student majoring in Political Science. She can be reached at EW658111@wcupa.edu.