SGA proposes dining initiative to administrators

by Martha Schick / Beacon Staff • September 25, 2014

Jay Phillips, associate vice president for facilities and campus services, and Karen Dickinson, director of business services, attended Tuesday’s Student Government Association meeting to discuss the group’s Dining Services Initiative.

While the initiative has been in the works for several years, it was updated with new student surveys when the college switched food providers last year, from ARAMARK to Sodexo.

The visit gave SGA members a chance to bring forth concerns based on the survey results, personal experience, and conversations with other students.

One concern voiced by several members was the difficulty of getting enough to eat using only the current meal plans.

“Three meals a day is a standard amount of food that people eat,” said Daniel Goldberg, class of 2017 president and visual and media arts sophomore. “That, to me, should be included in the very, very basic meal plan. If we’re paying for meals, we should get the bare minimum.”

The Flex Plan allows for one meal swipe and $6.44 in Board Bucks per day, according to Emerson’s website. Although there is an Unlimited Plan with unrestricted dining hall usage, SGA members argued that the hours of the dining hall wouldn’t let some students with jobs, classes, or meetings get there for meals three times a day.

Phillips said the chances of the dining hall staying open later are low, as the cost to staff it would be too much based on the revenue from meal plans.

A concern raised by Kassandra King, the SGA vice president, was the difference in price between last year’s Emerson’s Cafe choices and this year’s Einstein Bros. Bagels options, citing the higher cost of a breakfast sandwich. While the senior political communication major agreed with Phillips that the new offerings are higher quality, she said that there was no lower quality, lower price option, she could choose to try to save her Board Bucks.

Another complaint came from Jasmine Reyes, elections chair and junior journalism major, about the Max Cafe getting rid of stir fry. While the other members laughed, Phillips said “the stir fry has come up a lot,” and that he was looking into it due to the student response.

Other issues brought up by members included listing ingredients for those with allergies, healthier options in the Little Building Convenience Store, and plans to control rodents and fruit flies.

At the end of the meeting, Phillips asked the SGA about how the school could bring off-campus students back to Emerson for meals. The overwhelming response was more publicity regarding the various commuter meal plans, as many students in the room said that they had never heard there were three options.

Also at Tuesday’s SGA meeting, three students were unanimously appointed to new positions.  Gabriela Kula, a sophomore journalism major, was voted in as the Spirit of Emerson commissioner.  Rebekah Brinkerhoff, a junior marketing communication and performing arts double major, was elected to the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. Reyes was appointed as the undergraduate representative to the search committee the Vice President of Enrollment.