Lack of communication lands dining reform in a pickle

by Editorial Board / Beacon Staff • October 9, 2014

At issue: SGA submits dining proposals; Emerson says many are already addressed.
Our take: Consider the debate with a grain of salt.

The Student Government Association is hungry for change in dining hall offerings. The only problem, according to the administration, is that a lot of the changes SGA asked for in its dining initiative have already been met. With this abundance of miscommunications, it’s clearly time for the sides to talk turkey.

Allison Singer, SGA’s class of 2015 senator, told the Beacon that there’s not a meal plan option that offers enough dining hall meals or Board Bucks for three meals a day, anywhere on campus, for the duration of the semester.

But Jay Phillips, associate vice president for facilities and campus services, pointed to the college’s four new meal plans it added last spring to meet student demands, including one with a semester’s worth of unlimited dining hall swipes for on-campus students. Yet it’s not quite as easy as pie—this plan only offers 150 Board Bucks, far fewer than what’s necessary to eat in the Max for a semester.

The health claims SGA lobbied against the school are also questionable. Phillips said Emerson addressed those violations in semesters long past. The initiative, as written by SGA, reports that students have observed pest problems—like mice or fruit flies—in the dining hall. But Phillips disputed those allegations and called them “inflammatory.”

Yet the blame for these proposals must go both ways: Just as SGA should update and review its proposals for potential oversights, it is also incumbent upon the school to better publicize the fruits of its own labor. Even unintentionally, the school has misinformed the community by omission. The same emails and letters sent home that alert students and their families of the bad apples in the history of the on-campus dining kitchens should be twofold, with correspondence detailing the positive changes that it seems no one hears about. Communication improvements from both sides could have kept us all out of this hot water.

Though it is unreasonable to expect every student to eagerly refresh the Emerson dining hall homepage to keep up with changes to the school’s food service moment by moment, we expect our student representatives to bring home the bacon—or at least, the tofurkey. SGA should have done the basic research before biting off more than it could chew.