Results from a survey sent to students about dining services options are in and currently being reviewed by the university. Student Government Association (SGA) organized an interactive exhibition to promote the survey and the new contract the university signed with Aramark earlier this year.
Changes in the contract that were promoted by SGA include featured concepts and artistic renderings of future renovations, a Steak ’n’ Shake in the POD, a Starbucks in the library and juice and food trucks around campus.
“It was more of an interactive event,” said Paul Wright, director of business operations for Tiger Card. “Instead of talking about it through other media sources, we decided to have more of a visual reference so students could come down and see realistic drawings and ideas and concepts, ask questions to us or the Aramark staff and just to give them better insight into what we’re trying to accomplish with our new contract.”
David Tuttle, dean of students, initially proposed the idea for the exhibit at a Student Government Association (SGA) meeting on March 21. Tuttle asked SGA to think of better ways to promote the discussion and to solicit more feedback from students.
“I had raised the idea of another forum, but the SGA students said there were better ways to get people’s opinions or to get people to show up,” Tuttle said. “What the senators suggested was that we do something more dynamic, and so the idea for the exhibition came out of SGA.”
SGA representatives thought that students seeing their peers would make it more likely to get honest feedback and decided that students were more likely to give all of their feedback in an interactive session instead of taking a survey on their own.
“We thought that if we had other students there, they would be more likely to think, ‘That’s my friend, I’ll go give feedback.’ Also, something more interactive where people can try free food attracts more students,” said Amulya Deva, junior and president of SGA. “We got a decent amount of feedback especially compared to if we’d just done a survey.”
Along with the interactive exhibition, an online survey was sent to students on March 31, and the results are in, according to Tuttle. Roughly 700 people responded to the survey.
Many of the changes that dining services had already decided on — including to-go containers, more flexible use of meal swipes, extended hours — were received well by students. Responses were consistent throughout the exhibit, and although not many differing opinions from the online survey surfaced, the exhibit helped dining services receive more in-depth responses.
“There were certain things we weren’t sure how students would respond to. For example, the Batch 101 concept, otherwise known as the exhibition teaching kitchen,” Tuttle said. “According to the survey, a lot of students thought that would be really great. However, in the conversations with the staff, they went a step further and asked things like, ‘Could my organization do something there?’ or ‘Could we request certain things?’ ”
Tuttle also mentioned that talking with the students affirmed the idea of having local coffee options that could be rotated out in Mabee dining hall.
SGA and dining services have yet to see the full results from the exhibit since Aramark recorded the student responses. However, dining services, SGA and Tuttle plan on finalizing the contract soon.
“Once we get the full analysis back from the survey, we’ll work with SGA to try to disseminate the results and we’ll take that input and work it into the contracting process,” said Paul Wright.
If you would like to become more involved in these decisions, contact SGA president Amulya Deva or SGA vice president Rachel Daniel.