Bon Appetit/WSA respond, a.k.a. How to Bitch Constructively

I am just going to copy and paste this e-mail we received from Emily Malkin ’08, WSA vice prez .

Anyway, the WSA chair of the Finances and Facilities Committee (Becky Weiss ’10) forwarded the Wesleying posts about dining/usdan on to Dean Rick Culliton, who’s the new director of the Usdan Center. He responded with a few emails. Here are his responses to some of the big things:

  • “The changes to the dining program came largely as a result of student input from the WSA’s concept of dining and the new facilities that are coming online in the fall. The move from 12 meals a week to 8 meals a week came as the result of many first students asking for greater flexibility in when and where they eat. So the plan that was developed was to give 1st and 2nd year students more points with 8 meals per week and that is what Bon Appetit has rolled out.”
  • “In terms of late night hours Aramark kept Summerfields open until 1:30AM 7 nights a week last year but the grill closed at 1AM. Because the Usdan Center is open until 2AM on weekends, and 1AM on weekdays Late night dining will essentially be open until 2AM (grill closing at 1:30AM on Friday and Sat) and late night will be open until 1AM the other days of the week with the grill closing at 12:30AM. The weekend hours will be open 30 minutes later with Bon Appetit and weekday hours will close 30 min earlier.”
  • “Bon Appetit does not have any plans to reduce staffing.”

We know that some students have some concerns about Bon Appetit and the new campus center, and we really want you Wesleying folks (and everyone) to know that the more feedback people give us WSA people, the more we’ll be able to convey those concerns into actual change. So far, Bon Appetit has seemed really receptive to student input; the new marketing director at Bon Appetit has gotten in touch with some of the WSA executive committee members and she seems really interested in working with students. A dining committee (made up of students, staff, and administrators) is going to be meeting weekly in the fall, so if anyone has any questions about that, feel free to email Becky Weiss at rweiss@wes or Mike Pernick ’10 (the new chair of the WSA’s Student Affairs Committee) at mpernick@wes

If anyone has any questions/comments/concerns about Bon Appetit, the new Usdan center, or anything campus related in general, you can also contact me at emalkin@wes or Matt Ball, the WSA prez at mball@wes. He’s in Yemen right now, so his email accessibility is a little sketchy (which is why i’m sending this email, not him).

Also, I realized as I’m writing this that we never sent you guys a list of who’s actually on the WSA executive committee for 2007-2008. So, here’ s who’s who on the WSA for next year:

President: Matt Ball ’08 (mball@wes)
Vice-President: Emily Malkin ’08 (emalkin@wes)
Coordinator: Izaak Orlansky ’08 (iorlansky@wes)
Treasurer/Chair of the Student Budget Committee: Gianna Palmer ’10 (gpalmer@wes)
Chair of the Educational Policy Committee: Sam Ruth ’08 (sruth@wes)
Chair of the Student Affairs Committee: Mike Pernick ’10 (mpernick@wes)
Chair of the Finance and Facilities Committee: Becky Weiss ’10 ( rweiss@wes)
Chair of the Community Outreach Committee: Inslee Coddington ’10 (icoddington@wes)

Okay, now let’s take a look at Dean Rick Culliton’s responses.

  • “The changes to the dining program came largely as a result of student input from the WSA’s concept of dining and the new facilities that are coming online in the fall. The move from 12 meals a week to 8 meals a week came as the result of many first students asking for greater flexibility in when and where they eat. So the plan that was developed was to give 1st and 2nd year students more points with 8 meals per week and that is what Bon Appetit has rolled out.”

Now, I agree with him that the 8 meals-a-week offers more flexibility than the previous meal options…I mean, when I was a frosh, we had 10 meals a week and 150 points for the entire semester. The key phrase here: WHEN I WAS A FROSH. Now, we were always told that the main purpose of the mandatory freshman meal plan was to encourage us all to eat in the same place. So why make the sophomores do the same thing? Making freshman meal plans more flexible but sophomore meal plans less flexible is not an even trade-off.

  • “Bon Appetit does not have any plans to reduce staffing.”

Again, my concern was not Bon Appetit reducing staffing but the lack of transparency in its decision-making and future plans. The staffing concern was an example cited in the Argus article.

  • “In terms of late night hours Aramark kept Summerfields open until 1:30AM 7 nights a week last year but the grill closed at 1AM. Because the Usdan Center is open until 2AM on weekends, and 1AM on weekdays Late night dining will essentially be open until 2AM (grill closing at 1:30AM on Friday and Sat) and late night will be open until 1AM the other days of the week with the grill closing at 12:30AM. The weekend hours will be open 30 minutes later with Bon Appetit and weekday hours will close 30 min earlier.”

This isn’t even true. The grill at Summerfields Late Night did not close at 1AM!! Last call was 1:30, then the doors closed and everyone was asked to leave at 2AM. And besides, this doesn’t at all address the actual concern that Usdan will still be closing half an hour earlier on weekdays…Or Weshop reverting back to its highly unpopular weekend schedule. Why??

Anyways, that’s my two cents (more like cent-and-a-half?). Talk to us, talk to them, just talk.

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6 thoughts on “Bon Appetit/WSA respond, a.k.a. How to Bitch Constructively

  1. Noa Wotton

    Getting things around the PR machine is wonderful, and genuinely important, but in my opinion we could be a little bit more mature about it. So we complained about poster policy and got their attention – you could call that a victory. Actually, we got their attention enough for them to do the reaching out that we could have done in the first place, to clarify that there was nothing to complain about.I really appreciate the critical coverage of what the administration is up to, but what I’m trying to say is PLEASE ONLY RAKE MUCK WHEN THERE’S MUCK TO RAKE. Whining about non-issues not only sets a negative tone for all of our experiences here and sabotages those of us who are trying to FACILITATE communication between students and administration, but it trivializes the student voice of protest (that we need carry weight when there’s actually something important at stake).I hope you know I love you… that said, I wrote a rant in response to your last “what the hell” post about Bon Appétit, http://wesleying.blogspot.com/2007/07/bon-appetit-off-to-bad-start.htmland never got around to posting it, but this is how I feel.What the hell is right:I am way more appalled by your ridiculous cynicism than I am by anything Bon Appétit has done. Honestly, it’s getting cliche. They haven’t even moved in and you seem to have already made up your mind to hate them, to loudly rejoice in all of the minutely frustrating details and ignore any good changes that might be trying to grab your attention. Do you hate the food already, too?Last time, you were complaining about their corny food descriptions (hilarity aside, would YOU write about cafeteria food?). Now, they are rehiring all of our dining staff… but not everyone trusts them yet. Okay, you could assume that makes them the devil, or you could WRITE THEM, like I did, to clarify this and make sure they know we’re going to hold them accountable.This post is harsher than I usually try to be, but it’s just what honestly comes up… I think I’m seeing something that has frustrated me for a long time (not just on this blog, but with college kids in general) that I haven’t been able to put into words. Basically, your post about Bon Appétit felt whiny and entitled. I think of those girls on “My Super Sweet Sixteen” who get a $40,000 car for their birthday but throw a fit because it came on the wrong day. Okay, so we’re not dealing with anything close to that level of obnoxiousness, but… still. I guess I’m just hell of grateful that I can eat. And not just eat, but eat basically as much as I want, whenever I want. At a pretty amazing place, with straight up fantastic friends. I feel like you’re getting off on whining about little inconveniences and just enjoy that more than mentioning the positive changes that are happening.1. Bon Appétit had nothing to do with rolling dining into the residential comprehensive fee, and since we have no choice in the matter and it’s basically like tuition, I wasn’t too incensed that they didn’t mention it in the dining contract. They already told us the figure via email ($10,130 or $11,512, depending on year), and you can find it in four seconds by searching wesleyan.edu for “residential fee.”Yes, Weshop weekend hours are crappy. It’s nice that we can grab groceries on campus, but yes, that’s inconvenient. And earlier late night sucks, though our dining is still pretty flexible compared to some schools. And the Daniel Family Commons deal is fucking bizarre. Though, believe it or not, I don’t want your pity regarding my sophomore meal plan. Five buffet meals a week suits me fine.And, while you’re busy bitching about how Bon Appétit is hiring all the dining staff back but not emphatically enough, I’m told that they were the only bidder that didn’t propose to cut staff. I’m with you on staying attentive and making sure they don’t try to pull a fast one, but this is not something we can criticize them about at this point. It does make a big difference to me that they have a stated commitment to buying local, organic, and sustainably grown food – in their words, “socially responsible food sourcing.” While I don’t know the details yet, I’m willing to believe that they beat Aramark in that regard.And they’re just starting. Who says they won’t listen to student feedback? In my experience feedback is better received when it’s not presented as an attack, but you know, we can do it from many angles. Over, sideways, and under on a magic carpet ride.*cough*Anyway, whining is fine and dandy, you have a right to be negative. The thing is, as a widely read news source, Wesleying has the power to influence the tone of public discourse on whatever topic it addresses. So, when I read what I see as excessive, unnecessary negativity on Wesleying, it really frustrates me.I HOPE that most students aren’t going into this year planning to hate Bon Appétit (because if you’re planning to, you will – anything involving cafeteria food is easy to hate).Drawing out the negative is nothing new for media; on the contrary, it’s a long standing tradition. But what was Wesleying voted best of, again? That’s right… alternative media. We don’t have to buy into anything we don’t want to buy into. This is just my sensibility, but it would make me happy if, as a species, we could be a bit slower to point fingers and a little bit more open – open to recognizing positive intent, open to finding and addressing our own shortcomings, and willing to roll with changes and find positivity, instead of wedging ourselves into a cozy pit of cynicism.You may have seen it chalked on the sidewalk – Make motherfucking LOVE not WAR. Believe it or not, it’s not just some kids in the White House who can make principle policy and policy reality. Try makin’ some love not war in your own life. It feels good. I mean, nothing beats some real good lovin’. Truly though. Who’s ready for a paradigm shift? We can do it.Thanks for listeningNoa

  2. Noa Wotton

    Getting things around the PR machine is wonderful, and genuinely important, but in my opinion we could be a little bit more mature about it. So we complained about poster policy and got their attention – you could call that a victory. Actually, we got their attention enough for them to do the reaching out that we could have done in the first place, to clarify that there was nothing to complain about.

    I really appreciate the critical coverage of what the administration is up to, but what I’m trying to say is PLEASE ONLY RAKE MUCK WHEN THERE’S MUCK TO RAKE. Whining about non-issues not only sets a negative tone for all of our experiences here and sabotages those of us who are trying to FACILITATE communication between students and administration, but it trivializes the student voice of protest (that we need carry weight when there’s actually something important at stake).

    I hope you know I love you… that said, I wrote a rant in response to your last “what the hell” post about Bon Appétit,
    http://wesleying.blogspot.com/2007/07/bon-appetit-off-to-bad-start.html
    and never got around to posting it, but this is how I feel.

    What the hell is right:

    I am way more appalled by your ridiculous cynicism than I am by anything Bon Appétit has done. Honestly, it’s getting cliche. They haven’t even moved in and you seem to have already made up your mind to hate them, to loudly rejoice in all of the minutely frustrating details and ignore any good changes that might be trying to grab your attention. Do you hate the food already, too?

    Last time, you were complaining about their corny food descriptions (hilarity aside, would YOU write about cafeteria food?). Now, they are rehiring all of our dining staff… but not everyone trusts them yet. Okay, you could assume that makes them the devil, or you could WRITE THEM, like I did, to clarify this and make sure they know we’re going to hold them accountable.

    This post is harsher than I usually try to be, but it’s just what honestly comes up… I think I’m seeing something that has frustrated me for a long time (not just on this blog, but with college kids in general) that I haven’t been able to put into words. Basically, your post about Bon Appétit felt whiny and entitled.

    I think of those girls on “My Super Sweet Sixteen” who get a $40,000 car for their birthday but throw a fit because it came on the wrong day. Okay, so we’re not dealing with anything close to that level of obnoxiousness, but… still. I guess I’m just hell of grateful that I can eat. And not just eat, but eat basically as much as I want, whenever I want. At a pretty amazing place, with straight up fantastic friends.

    I feel like you’re getting off on whining about little inconveniences and just enjoy that more than mentioning the positive changes that are happening.

    1. Bon Appétit had nothing to do with rolling dining into the residential comprehensive fee, and since we have no choice in the matter and it’s basically like tuition, I wasn’t too incensed that they didn’t mention it in the dining contract. They already told us the figure via email ($10,130 or $11,512, depending on year), and you can find it in four seconds by searching wesleyan.edu for “residential fee.”

    Yes, Weshop weekend hours are crappy. It’s nice that we can grab groceries on campus, but yes, that’s inconvenient. And earlier late night sucks, though our dining is still pretty flexible compared to some schools. And the Daniel Family Commons deal is fucking bizarre. Though, believe it or not, I don’t want your pity regarding my sophomore meal plan. Five buffet meals a week suits me fine.

    And, while you’re busy bitching about how Bon Appétit is hiring all the dining staff back but not emphatically enough, I’m told that they were the only bidder that didn’t propose to cut staff. I’m with you on staying attentive and making sure they don’t try to pull a fast one, but this is not something we can criticize them about at this point.

    It does make a big difference to me that they have a stated commitment to buying local, organic, and sustainably grown food – in their words, “socially responsible food sourcing.” While I don’t know the details yet, I’m willing to believe that they beat Aramark in that regard.

    And they’re just starting. Who says they won’t listen to student feedback? In my experience feedback is better received when it’s not presented as an attack, but you know, we can do it from many angles. Over, sideways, and under on a magic carpet ride.

    *cough*

    Anyway, whining is fine and dandy, you have a right to be negative. The thing is, as a widely read news source, Wesleying has the power to influence the tone of public discourse on whatever topic it addresses. So, when I read what I see as excessive, unnecessary negativity on Wesleying, it really frustrates me.

    I HOPE that most students aren’t going into this year planning to hate Bon Appétit (because if you’re planning to, you will – anything involving cafeteria food is easy to hate).

    Drawing out the negative is nothing new for media; on the contrary, it’s a long standing tradition. But what was Wesleying voted best of, again? That’s right… alternative media. We don’t have to buy into anything we don’t want to buy into. This is just my sensibility, but it would make me happy if, as a species, we could be a bit slower to point fingers and a little bit more open – open to recognizing positive intent, open to finding and addressing our own shortcomings, and willing to roll with changes and find positivity, instead of wedging ourselves into a cozy pit of cynicism.

    You may have seen it chalked on the sidewalk – Make motherfucking LOVE not WAR. Believe it or not, it’s not just some kids in the White House who can make principle policy and policy reality. Try makin’ some love not war in your own life. It feels good. I mean, nothing beats some real good lovin’. Truly though. Who’s ready for a paradigm shift? We can do it.

    Thanks for listening
    Noa

  3. Anonymous

    submitting things to the wsa is not a good substitute for posting them on wesleying – when things get posted here, the administration actually feels some motivation to deal with them, because people read wesleying (potentially even, gasp, pre-frosh and their parents). it’s a way to get things around their PR machine, and that makes them anxious.

  4. Anonymous

    submitting things to the wsa is not a good substitute for posting them on wesleying – when things get posted here, the administration actually feels some motivation to deal with them, because people read wesleying (potentially even, gasp, pre-frosh and their parents). it’s a way to get things around their PR machine, and that makes them anxious.

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