SGA to liaison student complaints with business services

by Heidi Moeller / Beacon Staff • January 26, 2011

On a given night in the dining hall, Lindsey Train, a vegetarian, might go to the grill and order a veggie burger. Her burger, she said, is typically cooked right next to a regular hamburger patty, and she watches the juices from the hamburger soak into her meat-free patty. After seeing that, Train doesn’t even want to eat.

“I have tried to get in touch with dining services before, but never heard anything back,” the freshman journalism major, said.

Train is not alone in her complaint. Cami Bravo, Student Government Association president, said she and other SGA members have received numerous complaints about issues surrounding business services, particularly Aramark, Emerson’s food provider.

“The main concerns are the fact that they don’t label their food. Students have had instances where they ask the workers what’s in their food and the workers don’t even know. It’s just worrisome for people who have allergies, people who have a dietary restriction like vegetarians, vegans, etc,” Bravo said.

Another problem has been the grill and the legrain and legume sections of the dining hall, Bravo said. At the grill, students have witnessed workers using the same spatula to flip a grilled cheese sandwich as a raw hamburger, which not only is a concern to vegans and vegetarians, but a health issue. Bravo said vegans have also been distraught by the fact that the legrain and legume section of the dining hall is not open on the weekends, leaving them with just the salad bar.

According to Bravo, the Student Government Association said it plans to work closely with the business services office this semester to address various complaints they have heard from students. By creating a Facebook page devoted to the issues surrounding business services such as the food served by Aramark, the bookstore, laundry centers, print and copy center, and the convenience store, SGA president Cami Bravo said she hopes to allow more student voices to be heard.

“We want to make sure that it’s not just SGA concerns. A lot of the stuff we’ve heard about are from friends or from people who aren’t on SGA, so that’s why we created the business services facebook page,” the junior marketing major said. “But right now, our biggest issue is getting the word out about this page and making sure students are using it.”

Representatives from the business services office spoke with members of SGA last semester to answer questions they had, primarily regarding food in the dining hall. This was the first time anyone from business services had been invited to attend an SGA joint session meeting. Andrew Mahoney, director of business services, said while his office has tried to reach out to SGA in the past, it was never a successful relationship.

“They provide an awful lot of insight and energy,” Mahoney said. “It’s easier for us to give people what they want if we know what they want. We come to work here trying to do the best we can, we don’t come here to try and aggravate people.”

The business services office oversees all of Emerson’s dining services and administers its contract. According to Mahoney, they mostly rely on comment cards and e-mail to receive feedback from students. As mentioned by Bravo, students would like to see food labels at all stations in the dining hall. Mahoney said they are currently working on this issue.

“I would say within the month there should be some additional improvement to signage,” Mahoney said. “We are aware of this and we are trying to move expeditiously on this. It’s an important request and we intend to honor it.”

The SGA is currently looking for a student to assist  representing the business services office. The representative would attend the meetings held every Wednesday at 11 a.m. in the conference room on the fourth floor of Walker building. They would also work as a liaison between the student body and the administration. Currently, Ashley Brow, communications disorders senator, is a representative, but due to problems with her availability the SGA is looking for a second student to help.

“We are really excited about the prospect of dealing with a representative from SGA that speaks to the student body to get a better sense of what the students are looking for and requiring from us,” Mahoney said.