In June 2016, the University’s contract with Aramark will end and UChicago Dining will have the opportunity to either renew their partnership with Aramark or begin anew with another foodservice provider. As the University moves forward in this process, the Maroon Editorial Board encourages UChicago Dining to take student input and the history of issues with Aramark into account when choosing a new contract.
Dining is an integral and meaningful part of students’ college experiences on this campus. Every student has something to say about dining, and it is especially important that the University hear and consider these concerns. Students should have clear avenues to share their thoughts, and opportunities for students to provide input should be open and advertised to all.
Over the past three years, students have dealt with with dining hall closures due to repeated health violations, a new “Purple Menu” which led to a decrease in variety of foods and negative student feedback, and incorrect allergen labeling. Other problems include day-to-day issues such as the scarcity of silverware and cups in both dining halls, and concerns about affordable dining plan options for students. When asked, students will probably articulate other issues as well. Now, as the University considers alternatives to Aramark, it is a great opportunity for them to address long-standing student concerns about cleanliness, food quality, and price.
From this student input, the University should set defined standards for their food service providers. These standards should aim higher than the current ones, with the goal of providing on-campus dining that sustains students and other campus members in their different pursuits. The University should communicate these standards to the campus community, and institute concrete measures to regularly evaluate the new foodservice provider once approved.
Such standards will mark a distinct change for UChicago Dining. The Maroon Editorial Board strongly urges the University to consider if Aramark can meet higher standards on campus, and to wholeheartedly examine other options in order to better serve the campus community.
—The Maroon Editorial Board