I believe a major role in the residence life of a university is to provide comfortable and healthy living arrangements for students. A part of this involves that the university provide substantial, easily accessible, nourishing meals for its residents. Unfortunately, that is not necessarily the case when it comes to meal plans at Transy.
This year, Sodexo—which contracts with Transy to provide dining services—has made a lot of changes as it pertains to their meal plans. Frankly, none of these changes benefit the students who pay for meal plans. They have eliminated a campus favorite for late night eating, and for people with special diets like myself, such as paleo diets, vegetarian, or vegan, there are little to no options for food. On top of this, they have changed the hours that food establishments are open. The majority of the time, it is hard to find food on campus that is healthy, and available. It should not be this hard, as a college student, to eat university-provided food.
Here’s an example. This year, I chose not to have a meal plan because of these reasons stated above. My healthy dining options were sparse, and I ended up cooking my own meals most of the time because places were never open, and the food wasn’t great. However, in the instances where I have had no choice but to eat on campus, I put money on my Crimson Card to use at my convenience. It was a simple concept that should have allowed me to obtain a sub par meal from campus dining. However, it was not so simple.
One evening while I was working late on campus, I decided that I needed a snack and went to “Late Night Caf” minutes before close (because they have shortened the hours of late night dining options). After ordering my grilled cheese, which I had heard to be the only edible option on the menu, I was told that my Crimson Card was not registered with an account. I explained to the cashier that I had loaded my card with money, and that I was using that, rather than an actual meal plan. A blank stare and complete confusion preceded me, and the cashier eventually shrugged and asked if I could pay cash.
Long story short, I was unable to eat that evening, when it really shouldn’t be that hard for a student to obtain a sandwich on campus. After emailing Sodexo inquiring if they had changed their policy on Crimson Card money, I was told that the cashier did not know what he was doing, and was not trained prior to the start of the school year on how to use these form of payment. I was angry and completely flabbergasted that it has become so incredibly difficult to obtain a quality meal on campus. It is safe to say that I am happy to have cancelled my meal plan, and will not be spending my money on sub par food any longer.
The moral of the story here is simple: if you are in the business of providing a service to students, put the students first. Yes, I understand that Sodexo is a business and needs to turn a profit, but when its role is a critical part of the student life at a university, it needs to be more organized and less concerned about making money for themselves. It needs to be more concerned about feeding the students, and providing the service they were hired for.
Update 10/14/16: Interim Transylvania Dining General Manager Jeff Griffis reviewed procedure with staff not to allow students to go without food due to a register issue.