Student complaints prompt dining hall reform

by Editorial Board / Beacon Staff • February 28, 2013

At issue:

Emerson considers new food service options

Our take:

We're cautiously optimistic


Congratulations. Our whining has paid off.

After years of filling out dining hall comment cards and seeing no improvements, we have been forced to wonder whether the cards are read, or simply thrown in with the stale pita bread.

But now, those endless Facebook posts and Instagram shots complaining about moldy cucumbers and undercooked hamburger patties finally—maybe—have been enough to spur the administration to change our meal plans and food provider.

The college is currently looking into options to change the meal plans available to students, according to Jay Phillips, associate vice president for facilities and campus services. The two new options will likely include one that would offer unlimited access to the dining hall and $300 Board Bucks, and another that includes 80 meals from the dining hall and $800 Board Bucks.

The boost in board bucks would certainly get students through the end of the semester without having to resort to EC cash, off-campus restaurants, or even the dining hall.

Student efforts should be recognized for their contributions to the school’s decision. The Student Government Association has long called for expanded meal options. A Facebook group, Emerson Community for Healthy Dining Improvements, which nearly 400 members, has been cited by Phillips as a way for administrators to see student perspectives about dining services. The student who runs the group, Amelia Jimenez, has also met with President M. Lee Pelton to discuss the problems she and her peers have seen.

And students have proven themselves capable of pushing reforms in the past. Over the last few years, we’ve seen trays disappear and cage-free eggs options pop up. But that the administration is considering replacing the provider suggests that the whole of our persistent objections — from major issues to minor complaints — have resonated.

While Emerson has undertaken the long-overdue process of selecting a new

food service provider, it will be a wasted opportunity unless the feedback and opinions of students are addressed in the decision-making process. Emerson students have called for healthier food, increased variety, and more vegetarian options. The dining hall contract should not be stamped and sealed before the towering piles of comment cards are reviewed.

Emerson dining services may not be perfect, but these long-awaited reforms might make it easier to swallow.