There’s nothing quite like seeing administrators take an active interest in the students’ opinions, then take that feedback to heart.
It’s an unfamiliar feeling. This newspaper staff has witnessed the university embark on at least three major initiatives with little meaningful input from students.
After Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the “Campus Carry” bill into law the summer of 2015, the university held a campus forum to solicit opinions as to whether Trinity University should ban concealed firearms on school grounds. The university already prohibited firearm possession, and the law allowed private universities to opt not to allow concealed carry on campus; SGA’s president at the time stated that the event was merely a formality.
The folks behind the Tobacco-Free Trinity policy, implemented last August, fielded student opinions at one town hall meeting. But this was held after the administration’s mind was made up — the point wasn’t to determine whether Trinity should ban cigarette and vape use on campus, but to see how students felt about the decision.
Then, in September, students were informed that students living off-campus were no longer able to swipe themselves into the dorms. For over a decade, any enrolled student could enter any residence hall, regardless of their housing status; now non-resident students find themselves locked out of their former homes, without being asked how they’d feel about the change.
So you’ll have to forgive our surprise when we saw the university acting so quickly to gather and account for students’ opinions on Trinity’s new dining contract with Aramark. Hats off to Charles Robles, Bruce Bravo, David Tuttle, Paul Wright, Diana Heeren and the folks at Aramark and on SGA for working to get as much student feedback as possible.
Seriously, the turnaround was lightning-quick. Tuttle emailed students on March 31 and weeks later, on April 14, Aramark had processed the data gathered from about 700 students, staff and faculty, and also included information they gleaned from last week’s demonstrations in Mabee.
The undecided elements of the contract include the degree to which the university accommodates for special diets, for example allergen-free and vegan options, details about how Mabee should be arranged and what food vendors should be featured in the Coates Commons.
We spoke up and they heard us: Extended hours across campus, meal-point exchanges and to-go options are on their way. The university is also working to replace the POD’s Grilleworks with a Steak ’n’ Shake and set up food and juice trucks around campus.
We regret to inform you that it seems that EcoGrounds will be replaced with a Starbucks. Of the 76 respondents who asked for a different brand of cafe, 61 specified the only multinational chain that already maintains 10 locations within three miles of campus. We’ve asked before and we’ll ask again: Why not Rosella or Local?
Still, it’s good to hear that local coffee vendors might serve in Mabee, and vegetarian Trinitonian staff are thrilled to hear that Taco Taco may begin serving lardless beans. There’s plenty to be jazzed about.
If you aren’t one of the 700 survey respondents, we recommend you reach out to the aforementioned administrators immediately. Search your T-Mail inbox for emails from firstname.lastname@example.org; it’ll be near the top.
After all, it’s not every day that you get to have a meaningful say in your university’s offerings and operations.
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