Sodexho managers addressed student concerns about Eickhoff Hall’s water main break during their Dining Services committee meeting on March 8.
When a leak was reported outside the Marketplace Convenience Store on March 6, the water had to be shut off in the building to repair the damage. According to a statement on the meeting agenda, the College was forced to close the dining hall as well as the store because of the lack of running water for employees to wash their hands and the dishes in compliance with Department of Health standards.
John Higgins, general manager of Dining Services, said Sodexho had expected the problem to be fixed by midnight and was pleased when procedures to repair the break were successful.
He said the decision to close the dining hall was made between 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., normally the busiest time of the night.
“We made the decision to close,” Higgins said. “But we were not going to let anyone go hungry.”
Employees were moved to other dining locations on campus, including Brower Student Center’s food court and the Travers/Wolfe Dining Hall, to accommodate students who were turned away from Eickhoff Dining Hall.
Higgins said he received two e-mail complaints from students concerning the closing of the dining hall. One came from a community advisor, who said communication between the College and students needed to be improved to let students know that Eickhoff Dining Hall was closed for the evening.
The second e-mail came from a student who has the Carte Blanche meal plan and was concerned that he did not have any more points to spend in other dining halls.
“Without a doubt, we would have given him a meal,” Higgins said. “I made myself available in case this was a problem (throughout the night).”
Aside from these issues, Higgins said there were no major problems that night.
“(About) 400 to 500 people were fed in T/W,” Higgins said. “There were no complaints there.”
Karen Roth, director of Auxiliary Services, attended the meeting and explained how the campus informs students of problems that affect them.
According to Roth, in instances such as a massive snowstorm, the campus usually has 24-hour notice and can prepare for possible emergencies. She said an e-mail is normally sent to the entire campus to inform students of the plans and others are written throughout the day to keep everyone updated.
“This situation happened much quicker,” Roth said. “(Next time) we can be better about getting the message out.”
Higgins said he will be working with Steve Hugg, marketing director, and Matt Hower, resident dining director, to do something for the students in appreciation of the way they handled the difficult situation.
“So many of the students were inconvenienced but adapted to the changes in a positive way that I wanted to say thanks,” he said.
The meeting ended with a discussion of several complaints and praises for Sodexho from students, which were brought to the attention of the Student Government Association.
Among the comments recorded were ones requesting fewer fried foods, a larger selection of sugar-free desserts for diabetic students, better cleaning of utensils and a shout out to Big Larry as being the “freaking man.”
In response to the issue of dirty utensils, Higgins said that Sodexho has received the highest marks possible in recent health inspections, but students should find a manager if there is a specific item they feel has not been properly cleaned.
In addition, some students have complained that there is a poor selection in Eickhoff Dining Hall between lunch and dinner each day and from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Higgins said the turnover of food is based on the demand and food is prepared before the 11:30 a.m. rush.
“Later in the day, we don’t prepare foods as early,” he said, adding that food is often made to order later in the day.
Higgins also addressed a complaint concerning the overcrowding of the food court between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. every weekday. He said that the area is always jammed from 11:25 a.m. to 11:55 a.m., but that the opening of the New Library caf? next semester should alleviate some of the crowds.
“It will hopefully offset some of the crowds,” he said. “We will be offering meal equivalency (for freshmen and sophomores) in the library caf?.”