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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Sodexo to partner with student community

Published: August 23, 2013
Section: Editorials

Vital to the health of a University is the quality of student life. Candidates for admissions will not attend a school that does not promise a rich, vibrant and wholesome college experience. Foremost among the barbs frequently lodged at Brandeis’ management of campus life is its food service.

Students complained that food provided by the auspices of Aramark was of a quality that did not justify its price. A visitor to a typical Brandeis cafeteria would likely complain of long lines, limited options and infrequent rotation of menus. Patrons of the POD Stores often complained that prices were inflated compared to similar items sold at the nearby Hannaford’s and Walgreen’s.

While some improvement was seen during the 2012-2013 school year, many students attributed Aramark’s heightened sensitivity to customer satisfaction to the fact that its contract was up for renewal instead of a genuine dedication to excellence. Regardless of the changes, University food service remained a conspicuous symbol of the state of community life.

We applaud the administration for taking what is hopefully the first of many steps toward a higher quality of student life. The decision to switch culinary providers from Aramark to Sodexo emphasizes the fact that administration is taking an active role in increasing the quality of student life. While it is yet to be seen if the switch truly anticipates a new chapter in student life, our interactions with Sodexo personnel have led us to adopt a cautious optimism.

A nutritious and robust food service is one of the most important determinants in student life. Much of the Brandeis population hails from communities where meals are the anchor of community life and social interaction. The university and Sodexo must acknowledge the potential for their decisions to influence all facets of student well-being.

The ambition of Sodexo’s plans is heartening. Among the many promised improvements are new franchise locations on campus including Starbucks, Guy Fieri on Campus and Einstein’s Bagels (which previously only serviced a mini-franchise in the Shapiro Campus Center). In addition, we are promised overhauled dining halls, new kosher options and even the potential for on-campus food trucks.

We are encouraged by Sodexo’s willingness to listen to our feedback and to take action to remedy complaints. These include a method of providing input via mobile phone, a platform which we hope will streamline the feedback process.

If the administration is truly committed to overhauling student life, its attention should not be limited merely to food service. Other areas that deserve equal attention include housing and facilities.