Dining halls at Binghamton University have often been a source of discontent among the student body. This semester, Auxiliary Services and Sodexo are responding.
“What do we want to change? What can we do together?” asked Jim Ruoff, a representative for Sodexo Dining Services, to a group of students Wednesday night.
The Student Culinary Council hosted its first open meeting with dining staff and students to announce the council’s role as sole intermediary between students and dining operations.
Peter Napolitano, director of Auxiliary Services, said that from now on all student criticisms and ideas about the dining halls would be directed through the student-run council. Previously, the University ran committees that students could go to with complaints or ideas. This council is now facilitating regular meetings for every dining hall where the Sodexo reps will meet with students.
“The job of the Student Culinary Council is to keep your hand on rudder,” Napolitano said. “To row the boat, it’s going to be the student body. They’re going to tell us what to do and where put the power behind it.”
Napolitano said he already expects the council to be active, and that Brian Rose, vice president of student affairs, is also interested in coming to meetings.
“There’s a lot of low-hanging fruit, things we can change now,” Napolitano said.
E-Board members of the newly created council explained the organization’s structure and encouraged newcomers to join the council in its infancy.
“We’re going to have big meetings, like this, every other week and anything you want changed, regardless of where you live, come to this meeting and voice your opinion. If there seems to be a trending issue, we’ll refer to one of our teams,” said Jillian Shotwell, president of the council and a senior double-majoring in environmental studies and geography.
The council was organized into teams focused on retail aspects, environmental and social responsibility, residential concerns and nutrition.
E-Board members spoke about ideas they already had, like providing reusable takeout containers, reorganizing the grill at Chenango Champlain Collegiate Center and posting whiteboards for students to propose their own ideas and critiques.
Sodexo staff also suggested ways to improve dining.
“Breakfast transactions are virtually nothing. To open up the hotline in the morning and bring in the cooks and turn on the equipment, that can be a costly affair,” said John Enright, director of Resident Dining, about Appalachian Dining Hall. “If we remove that breakfast option and just have more of a continental style breakfast, that might make sense.”
About a dozen students attended the meeting.