When we first heard that the Dining Services Request for Proposals (RFP) committee had opted to renew the university’s contract with Aramark, newsroom opinions were divided.
Were we really going to continue business with a company that made national headlines just last week for serving a racist “Black History Month” meal of corn bread, collard greens and Kool-Aid? We’re continuing our ties with a corporation that has paid more than $2 million in penalties concerning labor violations, employment discrimination and health concerns since 2000?
These and other local concerns may have been on folks’ minds at the University of Houston, which moved last March to terminate its Aramark contract and pursue an RFP of its own. Their relationship with Aramark only dated back to 2005; Trinity has been a client for 34 years.
We have to be fair: Any malpractice going on elsewhere does not reflect on Aramark’s on-campus track record, which seems steadily improving for students.
Aramark says it wants to keep Mabee open later, replace Grille Works with a Steak N Shake and put a Starbucks in EcoGrounds’ place. They intend to offer cooking classes, increase the number of dishes that cater to diverse dietary restrictions, and replace the CSI POD with a sandwich bar.
Students will be able to exchange a Mabee swipe for $6.50 in Bonus Bucks anywhere on campus. Speaking of Mabee, they want to rebrand it as “The Tower.”
We know all of this because Aramark’s director of strategic development presented these ideas at a Wednesday forum in Northrup — the one that perhaps 10 members of the campus community attended.
Students can’t expect to see meaningful change in on-campus dining if their complaints are voiced only in private.
The university is in a unique position right now, one that comes only once every five years: Administration representatives are negotiating a new contract with Aramark, and Trinity wields great bargaining power in these conversations.
But your views won’t be heard by the right people if you’re only sharing it with friends, or even on the feedback cards distributed at campus dining locations.
Take it up with Bruce Bravo, senior director of conferences and auxiliary services, or Paul Wright, director of business operations in the Tiger Card office. Their email addresses are firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, respectively. The dean is another resource: firstname.lastname@example.org.
When he spoke to us, Bravo was clear that the details aren’t yet settled, so there’s still time to affect meaningful change.
Last week’s editorial pushed for a relaxed Mabee swipe-sharing policy, so we won’t waste ink on that here. We do wonder why Trinity University should host the third Starbucks in a mile’s radius; why not bring local brewing talent to the library?
Also, is “The Tower” apt for the campus’ squattiest brick of a building? We already know something as “The Tower” — the tower. C’mon.